[Japan Series] Day 7 Cont’d: Namja Town at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro (池袋)

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Being the jam-packed traveler that I am, on the way back from Odaiba, I suggested to S that we check out one more district. This was Ikebukuro (池袋). It has the second busiest railway station in Tokyo and offers entertainment, shopping and dining. The destination this night was to Sunshine City (サンシャインシティ) though, a shopping mall near the station. I actually remember living in a hotel near here back when I traveled with my parents. We stumbled upon the Pokemon Center while walking through the mall. They feature lots of Pokemon merchandise, many which I think are exclusive to Japan. I swear S had a really good time looking at the merchandise here!

 

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The real reason I cam here was because my sister had suggested we visit Namja Town. This is an indoor theme park by the creator of Pacman and houses some interesting attractions. However, admission is 500 yen.

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One attraction is the Gyoza Alley. Inside, there is a lane of gyoza shops. However, when we arrived, there were barely any people (probably because it was dinner time). It felt like a ghost town. Gyozas were also quite pricey here, especially after paying the admission to get inside.

 

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Since we were here, we decided we should still give it a try. We shared a plate of gyozas, and they were pretty good. I feel like any gyozas in Japan are good compared to in Vancouver though…

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The second attraction that made me want to visit was the shop at Ice Cream City. This ice cream shop features the weirdest flavours. You can choose from a collection of 50! There are normal flavours too, but of course I had to go for the unusual ones!

 

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The ice cream here is not cheap. To get a tasting of 6 different flavours, it costs 590 yen. But as you can see, the scoops are quite small.  Here is what I tried: Hokkaido Shirataki Potato Ice Cream, Shark Fin Noodle Ice Cream, Miso Noodle Ice Cream, Japanese Berry and Chocolate, Homemade Ice Cream Corn, and Shizouka Cantaloupe Sherbet. And guess what? The ice cream literally tasted just like each description. The shark fin had some fake noodles in it, and the miso was like eating ramen. The Japnese Berry and Cantaloupe were delicious but the odd flavours were the highlight for sure. Would I order a whole scoop of these? Probably not.

Namja Town was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. All the games inside are only in Japanese and are not included as part of the admission price. The food inside is interesting but if you add the admission and the cost of the food, then it’s quite expensive. I would skip this unless you have kids or can actually read Japanese.

 

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We didn’t find that there was too much to do in Ikebukuro. The area was quite similar to other areas with lots of shops and dining. However, we were sort of craving some snacks and walked past a McDonald’s… Ok I usually don’t like to eat McDonald’s when I travel, but in Asia, the menu items at McDonald’s is always so interesting. Here, the Fanta Melon Ice Cream Float caught my eye. Fizzy and bright green, the drink was a bit of a disappointment. The soft server melted in quickly and the flavour was just average. Nothing special.

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S opted for the Shaka Shaka Chicken which is sort of like a shake shake fried chicken. You can choose flavours like cheese or spicy, and they give you this packet of power which you dispense in and you just hold the bag and shake it. The chicken cutlet was pretty good and this was fairly cheap.

 

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I suggested we try the Sakura Peach Pie. The pie is flaky and quite different from the ones in Vancouver. The filling inside was delicious. Don’t expect real peaches, but it tasted just like those Japanese peach candy! Probably artificial but I love that flavour!

And with McDonald’s to end our last day in Tokyo, we headed back to our Airbnb to pack up. Off to Osaka!

Sunshine City
Address: Sunshine City, 3丁目-1番 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan

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Big G Large Fried Chicken

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Ever since we came back from Taiwan, we’ve been craving the large fried chicken you can get at the Taiwanese night markets. The first time we came across it in Vancouver was at the Richmond Night Market, and now Big G Large Fried Chicken has opened up a store front in the mall on Capstan.

 

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Take out is available, but there is also a decent amount of seats for you to dine inside.

 

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Whether you order take out or dine in, you will need to first order and pay up front. Other than the signature large fried chicken, they also have a variety of Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea.

 

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Large Fried Chicken – Seaweed Powder

Of course we had to try the Large Fried Chicken which costs $9.99 for one piece. It’s quite expensive compared to Taiwan where it’s only around $3. Here, you are able to season the chicken with a variety of flavours though and can choose up to two flavours for free. The chicken itself is huge (the size of your face), but the chicken remains moist and juicy inside with the outside being extremely crispy. We chose to have one with salt and pepper which is essentially the original flavour. The other, we chose to have seaweed powder which was my favourite. Although quite expensive, I would still come back for it and share it as a snack.

 

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Crispy Oyster Mushrooms

In Taiwan, we were also obsessed with the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms. Here, these were just as good with the oysters remaining moist and the outside well seasoned and crispy. They were priced at $5.75 but you got a decent portion.

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Big G Milk Tea

Last but not least, we got the Big G Milk Tea for $4.50 and added $0.50 for pearls. By buying one main, one snack, and one drink, we made this a combo and received $1.50 off our total combo. The milk tea is okay, but nothing super special, so I find it quite expensive.

Overall, we are happy that we now have the large fried chicken available in Richmond. It makes a great snack when you are craving something deep fried and the best part is they open late!

Pros:
– Chicken is moist and batter is crispy
– Open late

Cons:
– Not exactly cheap for fried chicken

Price Range: $10-20

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

Big G Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chachi’s

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary. Opinions are based on personal experience.

Thanks to Sherman, a group of food bloggers and I were invited to a menu tasting at the new Chachi’s located in the food court of Metropolis at Metrotown.

Chachi’s goal is to “make mall food better” and this is their first location in BC with plans to expand to other locations in BC. The focus is on sandwiches, but they also have a variety of salads and sides. All ingredients, including cheese, meats and breads are locally sourced. The bread is fresh from a bakery in Langley daily.

You can choose from the set sandwiches on their menu, or build your own.

They also have three of their own lemonades and iced teas.

Freshly made cookies are available as well. The ones we tried were quite healthy with oatmeal and raisins.

Other than their homemade drinks, they also have a select few bottled drinks. Surprisingly, my favourite was the Cherry Iced Tea. It had a light cherry/raspberry flavour to it. Their homemade drinks are overall slightly on the sweeter side, but not bad.

Asiago Caesar

We also tried two of their salads, including the Asiago Caesar which features crisp romaine, bacon garlic crostini, Asiago, Caesar dressing and topped with turkey.

Arugula

My favourite was the Arugula, which had arugula, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, goat cheese, and a balsamic sauce with turkey. You can choose your type of meat or have it without. I loved the sweetness of the artichokes along with the acidity of the balsamic. The salad was slightly overdressed though, so a little less dressing would have been perfect.

Cali

Onto what we really came here for – the sandwiches! We tried almost all the sandwiches on the menu, inclduing this Cali, which was filled with chicken breast, double smoked bacon, house made guacamole, cheddar, tomato, romaine, and spicy mayo. I really liked how the bread wasn’t too tough.

Bahn Mi

The Bahn Mi was Chachi’s take on the Vietnamese sandwich. It was filled with beef brisket, asian marinade, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic aioli. The beef brisket was very soft and tender, but the sandwich was slightly too saucy.

Hot Philly

The Hot Philly is not for the weak as this is one of the spicier options. Filled with rib steak, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, provolone, garlic aioli and spicy mayo, this is a delicious spicy sandwich.

Smoked Bacon Breaky Sandwich

They also have some Breaky Sandwiches, including this Smoked Bacon Breaky. I didn’t try this but it looks quite similiar to a McMuffin.

Pork with Mac

My favourite sandwich was the Pork with Mac. This is filled with tender pulled pork, sweet chili, BBQ sauce, and topped with loads of mac ‘n cheese. The pulled pork was so tender and sweet, and the mac ‘n cheese was savoury with a slight spice. Amazing creation!

Dill Chips

They also have homemade chips with a variety of flavours. We tried the Dill Chips, which had a nice pickled flavoured. The chips are kettle cooked and reminded me of Ms. Vickie’s. Addictive!

Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo, Mac ‘N Cheese

The Pork ‘N Mac Sandwich was good, but I would actually just skip the sandwich and order their side of Mac ‘N Cheese. These come in two versions: the original or the spicy with capicollo. These were so smooth and creamy and some of the best mac I’ve had! If you enjoy a bit of spicy, I would highly recommend the Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo.

Overall, Chachi’s is a great addition to the food court by offering a more gourmet sandwich option with quality ingredients. The sandwiches are priced slightly higher at $8-$12, but I can understand since the ingredients are all locally sourced.

Chachi's Metrotown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 14)

The next morning, we decided to head out Ximending to look for food for brunch. This place is always bustling with people!

Luckily, many of the street vendors had already opened up. First up was this Green Onion Pancake stall. You can add different flavours or even add cheese or pork fluff to name a few.

We decided to get the original and it cost only NT$25. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but this was probably the best Green Onion Pancake I’ve had! It had such a nice char and they brush on this sweet soy sauce. Delicious!

Continuing on, we tried this Grilled Tempura. Lightly brushed with a sweet savoury sauce, this is fun to snack on. The pieces are quite big though, so i got a bit sick of it after one. Good for sharing. NT$30 for a skewer.

I also decided to get some Hong Kong Style Curry Fishballs. What was I thinking getting fishballs in Taiwan? Yea…these were not good. The curry was not apparent. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the flaming spicy flavour. NT$30 for 4 fishballs.

Getting thirsty, we headed to a 7-11 to look for some drinks. I got the Apple Milk while S got the Papaya Milk. I love how convenient these 7-11s are and how cheap the prices are. The papaya milk was really good while the apple milk was alright. I found it to be slightly tart so it tasted odd.

What to do in Ximending after you’ve visited almost every shop? Go to Tom’s World again and shoot some hoops. S loved this arcade so we ended up doing some exercise and shooting hoops again…

I finally convinced S that we should leave Tom’s World and go do some exploring since we traveled all the way here. Well, we ended up checking some items off my to-do list and that included buying souvenirs. ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅 is known to make some of the best pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥) and it’s a must buy when visiting Taipei! I believe they only have one bakery in Taipei and you can get here by taking the MRT to Nanjing Sammin station and walking straight ahead after you take Exit 2.

When we entered, it was quite a mayhem inside with all the tourists grabbing the pineapple cakes off the shelves. The pineapple cakes are not cheap as they around CAD$2 for one. They have different fillings as well, but after trying many, I still think the original pineapple filling is the best. The filling is not overly sweet and doesn’t stick to your teeth. The outside cake is buttery and flaky. Highly recommend! They also sell other products like wife cakes (老婆鉼).

After doing some pineapple cake shopping, I suggested we visit the  Wu Fen Pu Garment Wholesale Area (五分埔). You can get here by taking the MRT to Songshan Station. It is an area known for the largest wholesale garment market in Taipei.

The area is a huge maze with many shops selling mostly women’s clothing and accessories. I did find that the styles were not as trendy as the ones in Shida and Ximending though. Still, not bad and I picked up some cheap scarves. Because S was super bored shopping with me, he suggested we go play bowling at E7 Play (AGAIN). Well, unfortunately, since it was a weekend, the place was super busy and we wouldn’t get a spot until late.

So instead, I suggested we do more touristy things! We took the MRT to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. This is a memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun is known for his Three Principles of People: nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood.

Inside the main entrance, you will find a statue of Sun Yat-sen. There is a changing of the guards every hour but we had missed the last one. The building also displays Sun’s life and the revolution he held.

There are also gardens around the memorial hall and you will find many young dancers practicing here. It’s also a perfect spot to see the full Taipei 101.

After, I suggested we visit Ice Monster since it would be a short walk from the the memorial hall. They are famous for their shaved ice.

You can either order take-out or sit in. It was rather chilly that day so we chose to sit-in. The cafe is brightly lit with wooden decor. You order and pay at the entrance and they will bring you your dessert to your table.

We chose the Fresh Mango Shaved Ice because that’s pretty much their signature item. The ice is super light and comes with a scoop of mango ice cream and tofu pudding on the side. At first, we thought there was very little mango but it was actually all on the bottom of the bowl. There were tons! It’s around NT$250 and great for sharing between friends.

After dessert, we took the MRT back to Ximending 西門町and wandered the streets again. You can never get sick of this place! Love the lively crowds and at night you will see many street performers.

S couldn’t resist and had to try the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken 豪大大雞排 at the Ximending location. This location is extremely busy as well.

At this location, they also have a variety of other snacks and also drinks. The wait here was much longer because they have so many other menu items. There is really only one guy who makes the fried chicken so the wait was super long.

At last, we got the Large Fried Chicken again. S and I both agreed that the one from the Shilin location tastes better for some reason…

We also got the Fried Scallop and Squid Balls. These were seasoned with basil leaves so quite tasty. I didn’t really taste any scallop in it though.

I was also on the hunt of Stewed Pork Rice 魯肉飯 so we got take-out at Tian Tian Li 天天利美食坊. They also have sit-in.

It looked pretty underwhelming but it actually tasted okay. Just hard to eat while standing. I didn’t think it was very special but it’s quite the comfort food for locals. Plus it’s only NT$25!

Thirsty, we found a corner shop further away from the busy shops called Mei Tea 梅子兔. Look for the bunny rabbit and the long line ups.

We got a classic pearl milk tea to finish our night off. It was a long wait but this was very smooth and satisfying! Headed back to the hotel and did some packing as we would be leaving tomorrow night.

Details:

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

ChiaTe Bakery: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Wu Fen Pu: Yongji Street, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall: 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Ice Monster: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Hot Star Fried Chicken (Ximending location): No. 36, Hànzhōng St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tian Tian Li: No.1, Lane 32, Han Zhong St., Wan-Hua District, Taipei City

Mei-Tea: No. 7, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 7)

Day 7 would be our last full day in Singapore. Of course our day started off with breakfast. We visited Chong Boon Market & Food Centre in the Ang Mo Kio district. I feel like I’ve visited so many local hawker centres after this trip!

At the Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle stall, we ordered Oyster Omelette. They use mini oysters in this dish and is really good with a side of chili sauce!

I also ordered from Lor Mee, which apparently is a relatively new stall.

I got the Traditional Lor Mee. It’s basically noodles with a thick sauce and filled with tons of fish cake and fish balls, hard boiled eggs and more. I found the sauce a little bit too thick for my liking.

Singapore is also famous for their carrot cake so we ordered from Black/White Carrot Cake.

We ordered the Black Carrot Cake since we don’t usually get this in Vancouver. It’s basically a sweet black soy sauce. Quite interesting since it’s sweet rather than savory. They also cut up the cake into really tiny pieces.

At the hawker centre, we tried Bedok Chwee Kueh. This spot is very famous and therefore has a huge line up!

We ordered the Chwee Kueh with chili sauce on the side. Chwee Kueh is a steamed rice cake and a popular breakfast item for Singaporeans. It’s topped with preserved radish and you then dip it in the chili sauce. The cakes themselves are not very flavourful so are only flavoured by the salty preserved radish and spicy chili sauce.

For drinks, I had the Grass Jelly Soy Milk Tea. I’ve had grass jelly with milk tea many times but not with soy milk. Pretty good!

S had the Soursop Juice Drink. A new fruit I discovered on this trip is soursop and it looks like a durian but tastes completely different. Fruity and a must try here!

We also bought a Pandan Cake from a nearby bakery. Pandan cake is green in colour and is sort of like a coconut sponge cake. The flavour is from pandan leaves.

After breakfast S and I headed to the nearby local mall since I wanted to buy some local food products at the grocery store. I ended up with a bag full of laksa sauce, Hainanese chicken rice sauce and much more! We also got a snack at Yummi Bites.

We got the Fried Banana! Not bad but I don’t think they are freshly made.

At the MRT station, we found Ya Kun Kaya Toast which I have been wanting to try for so long. Locals told me they have some of the best kaya! You can find their stores at most MRT stations actually.

We got the original Kaya Toast and holy! This is the best toast I’ve had. The toast itself is toasted perfectly so is really crispy. Filled with kaya and a thick slice of butter, this is probably really bad for you, but so so good! Way better than Toast Box in my opinion! I ended up leaving with a jar of their kaya and have finished it by now!

We then took the MRT to Bugis MRT Station as we wanted to check out Bugis Street. This is basically a street filled with cheap goods and souvenirs. Sort of like the night market. You’ll find cheap watches, shoes, and clothes here. We later found that they have expanded upstairs now with tons of clothing shops for young women. The clothes here were a lot more trendy than downstairs and had a Korean feel to it. I’m definitely coming back here next time I visit!

After shopping we met up with S’s aunts and cousins and they suggested to visit Haw Par Villa. S said he had visited this attraction when he was a kid and it was the creepiest place… we all got curious and since admission is free, we decided to go check it out. It used to be called the Tiger Balm Gardens since the brothers who developed Tiger Balms first created the park.

Inside, you will find many sculptures depicting scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore. The most famous is the Ten Courts of Hell which is a creepy dark tunnel filled with depictions of what would happen to you if you went to hell based on Chinese myths. It’s pretty creepy in here and they get really detailed with what happens… You’ll have to visit yourself to see what’s inside as I find the pictures to be too scary to post here…

These are some of the other sculptures you’ll see at the park. They’re all very detailed but we found the park to be very random. You’ll enjoy it if you’re into mythologies though.

After Haw Par Villa, we took a quick drive around National University of Singapore and then checked out the National Stadium. It features a dome with a retractable roof, which is very similar to BC Place in Vancouver.

As we were near a mall and were a bit hungry, we decided to grab take-out at Popeyes! We don’t have it in Vancouver so I’ve always wanted to try!

We got some chicken strips and their famous biscuits. Mmmm pretty good but I think I still like LA Chicken the most!

We did a bit of shopping around nearby malls and then decided to check out a Korean dessert place called Binggojung.

We got the Oreo, Matcha, and Cheesecake Bingsoo. The ice is not as fine as the ones I had in Korea but not bad. Plus they’re pretty to look at!

After desserts, we headed back to the aunt’s and decided to take a bike ride around the nearby park with the cousins as it would be our last night in Singapore. The weather is really nice to bike at night as it’s no longer as humid. We headed home and packed our bags for the flight to our next destination the next morning. Until next time Singapore!

Details:

Chong Boon Market & Food Centre: 453A Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Singapore 561453

Yummi Bites: (inside AMK Hub shopping mall) Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, AMK Hub, Singapore 569933

Ka Yun Kaya Toast (Ang Mo Kio MRT location): 2450 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, #01-12/14/15 Ang Mo Kio MRT Station Singapore 569811

Bugis Street: (Bugis MRT Station): 3 New Bugis St, Singapore 188867

Haw Par Villa: (Haw Par Villa MRT Station) 262 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118628

National Stadium: 1 Stadium Dr, Singapore 397629

Binggojung Korean Dessert House: 399719, 102 Guillemard Rd, Singapore 399719

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 6)

Day 6 in Singapore started off with breakfast at a local hawker centre again. This time we visited Alexandra Village Food Centre as it was along the way to Sentosa.

S ate at Dover Road Kai Kee Wanton Noodles and got the Shredded Chicken Noodle in Dry Soup. This was for a low price of $2.50 SG.

For myself, I ordered from Lian Kee.

I got the Minced Meat and Mixed Ball Dry Noodle. Their menu shows either the minced meat or fish ball but they let me mix both. It may look dry in this picture, but the sauce is at the bottom and you mix it up and it’s super tasty. I especially loved the noodles which are homemade.

After breakfast, we arrived at Sentosa for day 2 of our 2-Day Fun Pass. See my previous post about our first day in Sentosa. Today would be a full day at Universal Studios. With the fun pass, you still need to redeem your tickets at the service center. A huge line up so I would advise to get in the line quick!

Upon entering, you will find yourself in a replica of Hollywood and New York City. I found these sections to be a bit underwhelming. Continue moving on and you’ll find yourself in the Sci-Fi City.

We quickly decided to go the Transformers ride and the line up was apparently going to be 45 minutes. I convinced S that it would be quick but I swear it took us 1.5 hours to get to the ride. Don’t be fooled by the line up as I was since it turns and turns and the line up continues inside where you cannot see. It’s just tons of waiting and kills your mood and mind you we went on a random weekday in September. Anyways, the ride itself was pretty fun I have to say but it really lasts for probably 5 minutes or so.

Throughout the attraction, you’ll find cool photo opportunities like this one where they have a photographer trying to sell you their professional prints, but they are also happy to take your pictures with your camera. Anyways, after that long wait lining up, we decided that it would waste way too much time and we wouldn’t be able to go on all the rides with the limited time. We ended up purchasing the Universal Express Pass which allows one time entry at basically all the attractions. I believe this costed us around an additional $60 SG which is not cheap but well worth it for us. From what I see online, it seems like you can get it for only $30 SG though… so be sure to check online first! You can also purchase the Universal Express Unlimited Pass if you want to have unlimited access at each attraction. We found that our pass was sufficient as we did not have much time anyways.

After purchasing the pass, our line up for the rides were a max 30 minutes and usually less. We felt great walking pass all the others waiting! One ride that I loved was the Battlestar Galactica Human vs. Cylon. The pass allows you to go on both each. Basically it’s a duel roller coaster so they move at the same time. Such a thriller!

In Far Far Away, you will find yourself with more kiddie rides as it’s all about the castle and Shrek.

We went on their newest ride the Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey. A cute ride great for kids and even adults.

A ride that I enjoyed and think is great for all ages was A Crate Adventure in the Madagascar zone. You sit in a log boat and are taken through a ride with very well-done displays of the four friends.

Again, we sort of skipped lunch because of all the line ups. So of course we got hungry later in the day and decided to eat at Mel’s Drive-In at the Hollywood zone. You’ll find your classic American diner food but way overpriced.

We got some Chili Fries, Regular Fries, and Chicken Strips. Not bad but definitely overpriced. Bring your own food or expect high prices.

Moving on we checked out the Ancient Egypt area with super cool displays!

Another thrilling ride is the Revenge of the Mummy. I was literally screaming in this but it was so much fun. The roller coaster will go backwards and you are in the dark half the time so it’s pretty frightening!

The last zone was the Lost World where Jurassic Park was. You’ll find life size dinosaur displays and all. This is also where Water World was but the water show did not happen because of the haze. Super disappointing!

We did however go on the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure which is a river raft ride and pretty fun. We brought ponchos ahead of time as you will get soaked on this ride. You can also purchase ponchos here.

Apparently the studio was closing early that day as there was a Halloween event which we were not aware of. Bummer as we didn’t get to check out all the rides. And this is what happens when you leave when the attraction closes…. a huge line up for the Sentosa Express!

Overall, we were quite happy with Universal Studios. You cannot have bags or loose belongings on you for many of the rides but it’s great because they offer free lockers at almost every location for an amount of time. That night, we headed to S’s relatives for a BBQ birthday party so no dinner pictures for this day!

Details:

Alexandra Village Food Centre: 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, Singapore 150120

Universal Studios (at Sentosa): From HarbourFront MRT Station, go through the VivoCity shopping mall and take the Sentosa Express, OR take a stroll on the Sentosa Boardwalk from the shopping mall, OR take the cable car from HarbourFront MRT (Exit B).

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 2)

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Day 2 in Singapore started off with complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Orchard. Had fruits, cheese, sausages, bacon, and a different type of fried noodles or rice each day. Not bad for continental breakfast and the chef and servers are super nice.

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After our tummies were full, we headed out to explore. The closest MRT was Somerset and I would highly recommend getting either a Singapore Tourist Card that provides unlimited travel for a certain amount of days if you’re there for only a short period or the EZ-Link Card which offers stored value and is more like pay per use. You can get both of these at most MRT stations or at the airport. The EZ-Link Card has a non-refundable cost of $5 so is only a good deal if you stay around a week like we did. The transit system here is awesome and trains are extremely clean. Maps are so easy to follow and I highly recommend downloading a map app on your phone which provides you with the quickest way to get around. Transit here is extremely cheap with many of our rides being under $1! What a steal compared to Vancouver…

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Anyways, our first destination was to check out Chinatown. You can get off right at the Chinatown station and take Exit A.

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I recommend checking out Pagoda Street if you want to buy Chinese souvenirs but this area is quite touristy. If you walk around the area you will also hit some open markets with more local goods. There is also the Chinatown Food Street with hawker stalls. My favourite was looking at the colourful houses on top of these shops which made it feel like you went back in time.

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Continue walking and you will find the Sri Mariamman Temple which is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases. The entrance is covered with detailed sculptures of mythological beasts and people. Quite an eye catcher and you can also enter into the temple, although you will need to remove your shoes. We skipped this part.

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Moving on, we somehow wandered into the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. This is a Buddhist temple and you are able to enter for free as well. However, those with shoulders or thighs showing will require a blanket which they can provide.

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Wandering around again, we spotted Maxwell Food Centre, which was definitely on my list of places to visit. We decided to grab lunch early which was a good idea.

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Maxwell Food Centre is covered and looks very similar to most of the other hawker centres that we would visit later on. At most hawker centres, the stalls will have a sign showing whether it is self-serve or full service. Self-serve means that you will need to line up, order, and wait for your food at the stall. This is the case for most of them. All hawker stalls also show the grading of their cleanliness and any that are A or B are good to go from our experience.

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We had originally anticipated the much talked about Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken, but for some reason it wasn’t open that day. We settled on Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice which had the exact same banner and a long line up. Apparently this is opened by a former employer of Tian Tian…

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Since we weren’t too hungry, we shared the Steamed Chicken Rice which came with a side of soup and added the hard boiled eggs. This was only $3.50 SG which was a deal! The portion was a bit small but perfect for one. The rice was absolutely delicious and the chicken was tender with a nice jelly on the skin. Pretty good but I can’t say how it compares with Tian Tian since we didn’t get to try. We also got a Soursop Guava Slush which was extremely refreshing! Gotta get the tropical fruits here.

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Following lunch, we took the MRT from Chinatown to Clarke Quay station. Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay which was used for trade back in the day. Today, it is more of a tourist area with the river being used for cruises for tourists.

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We crossed the river and found colourful buildings all along the quay. The area now houses expensive restaurants and nightclubs. Since it was daytime, they were all empty. I presume they are bumping during night time.

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Since it was extremely hazy and humid outside, we decided to head over to The Shoppes at Marina Sands for some air conditioning. The shops here are high end so of course we weren’t going to be doing any shopping here. However, it’s worth checking out if you’re a shopper since it’s very pretty inside.

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Although we weren’t planning to shop here, I highly recommend checking out the Louis Vuitton shop here. They have some interesting goods here that appear to be limited to Singapore. Like this chili crab suitcase… A tip is to go to their highest floor and exit to the balcony. You will be able to get a view of the Singapore skyline for free.

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Since we were pretty hungry, we decided to just eat at the food court at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. A bad idea, since this food court is overpriced and food is quite average.

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We ended up sharing the Char Kuey Teow which is a flat rice noodle stir fried with Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and beef. We found that there were way more bean sprouts than noodles… Would skip this.

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We were planning to visit Gardens at the Bay after dinner since it would be all lit up, but we exited the mall and realized it was pouring… We ended up heading back to our hotel, but along the way stopped by 313@Somerset, a mall right at the Somerset station. This mall offers more affordable shops, so we did a bit of browsing here. We then tried Toast Box, which is known for their kaya toast.

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Kaya toast is served with soft boiled eggs. And by soft boiled, they are very soft boiled. You crack these open and mix in soy sauce and pepper and stir it up. You can slurp this with a spoon or dip your toast in it. Kind of gross in the beginning, but I quite enjoyed it after…

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We ordered their classic Kaya Toast which comes with a thick slice of butter. Oh, this is so bad for you, but so delicious at the same time. Kaya is a coconut jam and along with the butter, this is a killer breakfast or midnight snack. We had this along with an almond milk and satisfied our late night craving. However, Toast Box is definitely not the best for kaya toast. I highly recommend Ya Kun which I will write about later on.  You can find both shops almost everywhere you go.

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We called it a night since it was raining pretty heavily. Some goodies I found at the supermarket were Singapore only flavoured cup noodles. Mmmm my favourite was the Black Pepper Crab! Great souvenir to bring back for foodies.

Details:

Chinatown Pagoda Street: Take Exit A from Chinatown Station

Sri Mariamman Temple: 244 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058793

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum:
288 S Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840

Maxwell Food Centre: 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184

Clarke Quay: (Take Exit C from Clarke Quay MRT Station) 3 River Valley Rd, Singapore 179024

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands: 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956

Toast Box at 313@Somerset: B2 313 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238895

Taste of Aberdeen – ChineseBites Media Event

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NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all food and beverages were free, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining 60 other foodies at the Taste of Aberdeen event hosted by ChineseBites. When you think of the food court, you might be thinking of Flaming Wok, Taco Bell and that sort of stuff. Well, the Aberdeen food court is a whole different story, with stalls serving up cheap, delicious Asian food. You’d be surprised to hear that many people regularly dine here for lunch or dinner. I brought along S to dine with me and we were seated with fellow foodie Instagrammers, Tea.Latte and Vancouverfoodie.

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Dinner started off with an array of drinks from various shops. Starting from left to right was the Matcha Soy Bean from Strike, Iced Lemon Ribena from Bubble Waffle, Iced Honey Matcha Tea from Teppan Kitchen, House Special from 8 Juice, Milk Tea with Pearls and Coconut Jelly from Estea Express, and Iced Genmaicha Tea from Saboten. I was able to try the House Special which consisted of mango coconut juice with tapioca, mango and pomelo bits. It’s like drinking the mango pomelo dessert!

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Sakura Roll

First up was the Sakura Roll from Aji Hana, which is the only Japanese stall selling sushi at the food court. The roll is filled with prawn tempura and avocado and topped with chopped scallop and tobiko. The toppings are quite abundant and I would say it’s pretty good considering it’s from the food court.

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Bubble Waffle

Next was the infamous Bubble Waffle from Bubble Waffle. This was the original flavour and the outside was crispy with the interior having that nice mochi-like chew.

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Curry Fish Balls

Included in my top favourites list (at the bottom of the post) were the Curry Fish Balls from Bubble Waffle. I loved the kick these had without it being numbing. These bite-size fish balls had that bouncy texture and were fun to eat.

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Pan Fried Chinese Chives with Pork Dumplings

Also making it on my favourite list is the Pan Fried Chinese Chives with Pork Chives from Chef of Dumplings. I would have never thought of ordering these at the food court, but these were amazing! The wrappers were pan fried to a nice crispiness and there was a ton of filling inside. Flavours were great!

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Hot Sour Noodle

The Hot Sour Noodle from Szechuan House was average for me. It had the strong numbing effect and reminded me of the Szechuan Boiled Fish Soup. Not sure if I would consider this a soup since I wouldn’t want to drink it… There were mostly glass noodles in it and tons of chilies. If you like spicy and Szechuan food, this is for you.

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Prawn Wontons

The Prawn Wontons at Lung Kee were surprisingly pretty good! The wrappers were thin and the prawn was big and juicy. These are big wontons for sure!

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Deep Fried Squid and Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Always making it on my favourites list is the Deep Fried Chicken Wings from Wu Fung Dessert. They are famous for them and you’ll always find the stall with a line up. What surprised both S and I were how good the Deep Fried Squid were! I never even knew they sold them, but they are just as good as the wings! The squid is extremely tender!

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Drunken Chicken Hot Pot

The Drunken Chicken Hot Pot from Tofu Hot Pot was a crowd-pleaser as the broth was delicious. You get an array of vegetables, chicken and glass noodles in a broth cooked with Chinese wine. I could really taste the Chinese wine in the chicken and it tasted great.

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Popcorn Chicken Nuggets

The Popcorn Chicken Nuggets from Yougo Chicken were nice and crispy and well-seasoned.

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Club House Sandwich

The Club House Sandwiches from Strike were visually pleasing and was a bit of a surprise for us. The triple stacked sandwiches are filled with a meat patty, eggs, cucumbers and tomatoes. It had a sweet flavour to it and wouldn’t be bad for lunch.

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Egg Rolls

Also from Strike were the Egg Rolls, which are filed with a thin slice of egg, canned tuna and corn. The wrapper reminded me of the Chinese chive pancakes. Thought this was just average.

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Baked Pork Chop on Rice

A typical order from Mambo Cafe usually consists of the Baked Pork Chop on Rice. This is a huge filling portion at a cheap price. You can probably share this between two people. You get a ton of pork chop and the cheesy tomato sauce is delicious on top.

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Chicken Bulgogi & Pork Belly

My least favourite item of the night was the Chicken Bulgogi & Pork Belly from Kitchen Korea. I found that both the chicken and pork were rather dry and tough. The flavours were also rather bland. I’ve tasted better Korean meats for sure.

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Sticky Rice

The Sticky Rice from Leung Kee is filled with Chinese sausage and was quite flavourful.

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Soy Sauce Chicken and Long Gong Chicken

Also from Leung Kee was the Soy Sauce Chicken and Long Gong Chicken. Both had a nice gelatinous layer of jelly and were marinated well.

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Saboten Set

From Saboten, we got to try the Saboten Set which came with prawn, pork tenderloin and pork loin. It comes with a large choice of dipping sauces as well as a miso soup. The batter is extremely light and crispy. I preferred the tenderloin and the prawn the most as I found the pork loin to be rather dry.

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Hainanese Chicken on Rice

Making it on my top favourites list is the Hainanese Chicken on Rice from Cafe D’Lite Express. The rice was well seasoned and the chicken had that nice jelly like skin. Loved the chili sauce on the side too!

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‘A’ Grade Ribeye Teppan with Egg and Corn

If you like sizzling meat and rice, then Teppan Kitchen‘s ‘A’ Grade Ribeye Teppan with Egg and Corn will satisfy you. Coming in a hot skillet, the meat is sizzled along with the rice and you just mix everything together. Similar concept as Pepper Lunch.

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Mini Cream Puffs and Cheesecake Sticks

Onto desserts! First up were Mini Cream Puffs and Cheesecake Sticks from Beard Papa’s. Always a good option for desserts!

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Choco Banana Fresh Cream Mini Crepe

The Choco Banana Fresh Cream Mini Crepe from Mazazu Crepe was a bit of a disappointment for me since it had way too much cream. The crepes you normally get when you order the full size is usually really good with delicious fillings.

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A Dream in Eden

To finish off our enormous meal, we got to sample two shaved ice from Frappe Bliss. The first was A Dream in Eden which came in these adorable flower shaped bowls. Almost looks like a bouquet of flowers! This one has strawberries, kiwi, mango, and mango ice cream. I liked the sweetness from the condensed milk.

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Matcha Delight

The second shaved ice from Frappe Bliss was the Matcha Delight and this was one of my favourites. Topped with matcha icream, chewy rice balls and red bean, this is perfect for those who like matcha desserts. I especially like their shaved ice since it is the snow powder type where it isn’t chunks of ice. The powder like ice just melts into your mouth.

Thanks again to ChineseBites for hosting the event. To finish off, here are my favourite items from the night:

  1. Deep Fried Squid
  2. Deep Fried Chicken Wings
  3. Hainanese Chicken on Rice
  4. Curry Fish Balls
  5. Pan Fried Chinese Chives with Pork Dumplings

8 Juice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Estea Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Aji Hana Japanese Eatery & Udon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bubble Waffle Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Chef of Dumplings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Szechuan House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Wu Fung Dessert Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Lung Kee Congee & Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Yougo Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Tofu Hotpot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Mambo Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Leung Kee Cantonese Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Strike Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Saboten Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Teppan Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Cafe D'Lite Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Mazazu Crepe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Beard Papa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Frappe Bliss Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato