Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

[Media Invite]

Steffi and Leroy getting all excited as we made our way to MBS on a doubledecker bus.  Doesn't matter that it was raining.
Every time I bring the kiddos to a musical or play, I always have the fear that they would not be able to understand what the performers were singing about in English.  I also fear that they would get bored and end up disturbing others with their incessant questioning during the show.  But I was glad I ended up bringing Steffi and Leroy to Disney's Beauty and The Beast on it's opening gala night, many thanks to BASE Entertainment Asia in extending the invite to our family.  It took 13 years before this classical Broadway musical finally made it to our shores, so how can we miss it?

Woohoo, they can't wait to get into the theatre!
I am not not going to act like some arty-farty musical-going kind of guy, because I am not one.  Being the pragmatic me and having 4 young kids, the family going for a simple movie show would often suffice for us, and it is definitely kinder on my wallet.  But I definitely HAVE to share our superb experience at this musical with you.  EVERYONE I spoke to, who had watched the musical, only had praises to sing of it, and this is so evident in the social media posts that you get to see online!

Having to take the bus and MRT down, we set off from home quite early and Steffi and Leroy was already getting a little restless at 8pm and kept asking why the show hadn't started yet.  However once the musical started, so did the kiddo's questioning.  They had to ask me what the lyrics meant or what their dialogue were, due to their weak command of English but I was also surprised that they actually knew exactly how the story progresses!  I had never introduced the story to them and they had actually learnt about it on their own, through YouTube they said.

We thoroughly enjoyed this particular section that got everyone all excited.  Awesome dance, and the clinging of beer mugs were timed perfectly! (Photo credit: BASE Entertainment Asia)
The elaborate costumes and beautiful voices transported all of us into the magical story. (Photo credit: BASE Entertainment Asia)
Somewhere into the show, Leroy mentioned that he need to relieve himself but both Steffi and myself were too engrossed in the show to want to leave our seats.  We delayed it for another 10 minutes before he finally declared he HAD to go.  While walking to the toilet, the kids were so thrilled to find out that they can still hear what was going on on stage and we ended up dancing to "Be Our Guest" in the toilet.  That was how happy they were and how much we enjoyed the performance.

Here's Belle with the rest of the villagers. (Photo credit: BASE Entertainment Asia)
The kiddos gave me horrified looks and asked me if the musical was over when it stopped for an intermission.  We ended up staying in our seats as they didn't want to miss the start of the 2nd half. During the wait, Leroy told me he was really tired but yet never ever falling asleep during the entire 2.5hr musical.  This does not happen often, and it was because he really didn't want to miss any part of the performance.

The cute enchanted objects in the musical, and Lumiere was really an entertaining character!  Te kiddos were tickled just from watching his hilarious exaggerated actions! (Photo credit: BASE Entertainment Asia)
Gaston, the towering muscleman was the other character that the kids loved! (Photo credit: BASE Entertainment Asia)
My personal take on this musical is, watch it if you can and bring your kids along, even if it's just the cheapest seat in the house.  The singings were fantastic and made me question if they had actually pre-recorded the songs.  The dance choreography was also magical, and we found ourselves grooving along! Lumiere and Gaston were FANTASTIC too, with lots of hilarious scenes!  However I got a little emotional watching the performance, even knowing that it was just a fairytale musical?  6 thumbs up from all of us.  Word of mouth is going to get around, so you better hurry before the tickets get sold out! 

Useful Information

Date: From 21st March 2015 - 12 April 2015
Venue: MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands

Performance Times:
Tuesday – Friday: 8:00pm
Saturday: 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sunday: 1:00pm and 5.00pm

Ticket Price: From $65 (Excludes the booking fee of SGD$3 per ticket)

Internet Bookings: www.BASEentertainmentasia.com, www.MarinaBaySands.com or www.sistic.com.sg

Friday, March 20, 2015

Coffee: Nowhere, But Where?


The name of the cafe really makes you think doesn't it? So how would you pronounce the name?
It had been donkey years since I last stepped into West Coast Plaza or Ginza Plaza as it was formerly known as. I still remember taking a bus down to one of the comic shops there to sell my Dragon ball cards. Was trying to be an entrepreneur from young! Steady right? Anyway we got the chance to revisit it last week as we were invited to a dinner cum coffee appreciation session there! 

A place where specialty grade coffee is being served.
So let me introduce you to somewhere nice and inviting, a place called Coffee: Nowhere. Wait a minute, it's read as Coffee Now Here and not Coffee No Where, which I had thought initially too. Sets you thinking doesn't it? I already mentioned that I will introduce you to “somewhere”, so how can it be “no where”? Blah!!! Anyway now you shall remember, like I do. 

Got the chance to chat with the owner of the café, a highly-driven young chap named Welson Ang, who coincidentally is of the same age as me, but already owns a string of successful businesses. What nonsense entrepreneurship was I talking about earlier, regarding the  trading and selling Dragonball cards? THIS is the real deal, and oh, he is really friendly too. 

I loved the feeling when I first stepped in the cafe.  It definitely felt cozy, but yet had the luxury of space and it does not feel crampy at all, unlike some other coffee joints. In fact, the kiddos had so much fun roaming around the premise and treating it like their home. This is surely some place I can imagine relaxing with a nice drink, and surfing on my phone in peace, so I was rather worried that the kiddos would be a disturbance to other patrons! Although kids may be definitely welcomed here, coffee joints are still not indoor playgrounds afterall. 

The steps up to the back of the cafe where the cozy sofas lay.
The back where you can relax in the sofa with your laptop, or browse through the magazines and books provided.
The alfresco section where one can can sip coffee but NO longer take a puff.
The cafe is basically divided into 3 main sitting areas. There's the service counters and food preparation right in the center of the premise like an island. The front portion, towards the left of the café (near the main entrance) is catered more for dining, as the cafe serves a rather wide range of delectable dishes too (check out the food we had at the end of this post)! Not that one cannot order a cup of coffee and sit there but I would rather move on to the back of the service counters and enjoy my coffee in sofa comfort! While for those who loves alfresco setting, there is also an outdoor seating area at the back (behind the service counters).

Leroy having so much fun walking up the raised platform to the cashier counter to disturb the staff! Giving me the thumbs up some more, cheeky boy!
And here he is, eyeing the goodies!!!
The Art of Coffee 

There are many different types of coffee drinkers, such as the regular neighborhood Kopitiam kopi-drinkers, the affluent whatever-cinno drinkers who adores the café culture or the budget press-a-button in the pantry free instant coffee-drinkers. Then of course there are also the serious coffee connoisseurs who know and understand their beans and the 101 ways of brewing the perfect cup of coffee as well.  Although I am no connoisseur, and free coffee in the office pantry sounds pretty good, but I do buy the occasional ice-blended at times, thus I would really consider myself a casual but all-rounded coffee drinker la and it sure doesn't hurt to have more coffee knowledge!

We were given an introduction in coffee by Mr Ian Consulta, and he even managed to get the kiddos interested!
The kiddos concentrating as the expert shows everyone the different types of apparatus used for coffee brewing.
But Coffee: Nowhere is really serious about their coffee that they had even hired an executive consultant by the name of Ian Consulta who is a Q Grader (one of the only 15 in Singapore from what I was told) to procure the beans for the café. We were also lucky to be given a crash course, or rather, an introduction on the characteristics of different beans based on their origin, method of processing the fruit, the different type of roasting of the beans, as well as the different method of coffee brewing, by the real expert. 

We were also being taken through the different type of roast.  And here are some lightly roasted beans that were later ground into powder to be brewed.
Leroy was definitely entertained by the friendly expert as he prepares to show us the "pour over" method of brewing.
The first cup of coffee we tasted, rather acidic due to the light roasting, with the a lingering aftertaste.
It was interesting to learn that where the beans originated from would determine the flavor of the coffee, such as beans from Indonesia where there are lots of volcanoes tend to have an earthy taste, or how the water temperature affects the acidity of the brew too.  The hotter the water, the less acidic the coffee would taste we were told.

Next up, the demonstration of "Syphon" brewing, where an open flame is used to boil water which then rises to the top.  Coffee powder is then added in and the mixture is then stirred and agitated. Once the flame is turned off, the coffee will flow back to the bottom after passing through the filter.
Was told that if it was done right, there will be a "mushroom head" on the top, like the photo above.  The same coffee brewed using this method tasted less acidic due to the higher water temperature but the aftertaste also dissipated faster.
Next up, "Aeropress" method where a fellow blogger had a go at to have a feel of the pressure, both from the apparatus, and also from having to act cool in front of all the devices pointing at him.  The coffee brewed had a fuller body and we were told that it was because the additional pressure extracted more coffee oil from the powder. 
And here's Steffi with Mr Ian behind the brew bar at the end of his lively presentation.
Not Only Coffee

As I mentioned earlier, the cafe not only serves coffee, but have quite a big selection of teas and other beverages as well.  But not only that, the outlet serves some great tasting main courses and yummy desserts too! Check out some of the food we tried below -

Coffee is not recommended for the kiddos, so they have their own drink.  Stacci sure look satisfied doesn't she?
The starter started with the kiddos' favorite Cheesy Fries ($8.80).  Chessy is the right word for there were still cheese in the bowl even after we finished the fries, not that I am complaining.
Burger Nowhere ($14.80) - Thick flavorful beef patty with caramelized onion, thick-cut fries and salad.  I wouldn't mind having another burger for sure. 
Stacci posing with one of our main, Smoked Duck Aglio Olio ($15.80), with cheese still on her lips! Nothing to shout about and the smoked duck was a little too dry.  Choose the spicy one though, it tasted nicer!
Baked Cheese Mussels ($9.80) - To be absolutely honest, I didn't get to taste this but I reckon it should taste really safe.  How wrong can one go with just mussels and cheese?
Wild Mushrooms ($16.80) - If you love mushrooms, like I do, then this thin-crust pizza is a winner!  It's filled with different types of mushroom in every bite.    
This is the Double Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Ice-Cream that Steffi and Leroy ordered on their own and I have no idea how much!.  Look at that HUGE scoop of ice-cream! We downed it in no time and went to chocolate heaven,
Just when we thought that that was all the sweetness we can take in a day, we were served another 3 waffles (promo price of $9.90/each), each topped with different ice-cream flavor, fruits and condiments! Now, that's what we call ending the day on a sweet note, or 3!
The location of the cafe is definitely not convenient for our family, but for those who drives, or lives/work in the West side of Singapore, I would definitely recommend a visit for their specialty coffee and their western / italian food selection too if you have done so yet!

Useful Information 

Address: 154, West Coast Road, #B1-06/07, Singapore 127371
Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm daily
Cost: Around $25/pax for a hearty meal!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Catch My Little Pony Live And Live Ponies At City Square Mall!

[Media Invite]

It is no secret that Steffi loves My Little Pony (MLP), and she was actually the one who educated me on the different names of each of the ponies.  Having seen how happy she was and how much she enjoyed when I brought her to the last My Little Pony road show at Cineleisure last September, I knew she would never want to miss this current one at City Square Mall.  Thus I went on Sun, with all 3 kiddos, despite how tired I actually was, having worked just the day before.

Taking some photos before we went into the mall and Leroy was finding the whole place too girly I guess. 
The two girls with Twilight Sparkle!
The four main characters, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle put up a cheerful song and dance performance at the atrium, much to the delight of all the kids at the mall and it is FREE for all.  However to get a good view of the performance, one better start "booking" the limited space in front of the stage at least an hour before the show.  It was so crowded when we were there last Sunday, that even the 2nd level was filled with kids and their parents!

A photo with the ponies is a must! Leroy wasn't too impressed I guess.
There is of course a meet-and-greet session right after the performance, and shoppers need only spend $50 at the mall to get exchange for an exclusive meet-and-greet pass*.  However that is not all!  Head on outside to the City Green park (just outside the mall) and you will find real ponies from Gallop Stables too!  There may be places in Singapore where you can find real ponies, such as the Zoo or the riding schools but those are usually located in the "ulu" corners of Singapore, places that are hard for my family to get to as I only rely on public transport.  But here, it's just outside Farrer Park MRT Station!  You can simply purchase a $15 ticket at the booth located near the entrance of the City Square Mall, which will entitle you to a printed photo, feeding and riding session!  My kiddos enjoyed the interaction immensely and wanted to do it over and over again.

Steffi guiding little Stacci on how to feed the pony!
Here's Leroy posing with the stationary pony. 百马 yes, but 王子? Hmmm...
Steffi got to ride on the pony that went two rounds.
Here's our entry for the Toys "R" Us My Little Pony Selfie Contest. 
For the MLP fans, do head down to the Toy"R"Us at Basement 2, as there will be a kiosk with a MLP backdrop for you to take a selfie and post online before 22 Mar 2015 for a chance at winning a $100 MLP Hamper!  Steffi and Stacci took part too, and you can find more information in Hasbro's Facebook page

Useful Information

My Little Pony Party Surprise ‘Live’ On Stage

Date: 14 March – 22 March
Time: 2pm and 7pm (Mon – Fri); 1pm, 4pm and 7pm (Sat and Sun)
Venue: Level 1 Atrium

Interaction with Live Ponies (Pony Rides / Pony Feeding Sessions / Photo Taking)

Date: 14 March – 22 March, 28-29 March, 4-5 April, 11-12 April
Time: 1pm – 8pm
Venue: Level 1 City Green

*A maximum of three same-day combined receipts. 50 passes will be given out one hour prior to each show, strictly on a first-come first-served basis. Receipts used to redeem this Meet and Greet pass cannot be used for any other promotions, except for Free Weekday Parking. Other Terms and Conditions apply.

Safari Zoo Run 2015 - Our First!

[Media Invite]

We were really excited to be invited to our very first Safari Zoo Run this year even though it was already in its 7th year!  Talk about being laggards, even our post took so long!  The kids were really excited too and they even wore their running attire to bed (partly to save time in the morning too).  But I guess that didn't help much as we still to the venue pretty late.  Imagine trying to wake up 3 sleeping kids early in the morning... That's not exactly an easy job!

All of us can't wait to start our race!!! Woohoo!!!
Stacci was so comfortable in the pram! But because of the pram, it took us a very long time before we got to the starting line due to the crowd, and we ended up being the very last to start the race!
We had time to take lots of photos behind the last batch of runners awaiting for the earlier batch to clear.
Keeping the kids entertained while waiting!
The thing about the Safari Zoo Run, is that it is not only about running the full distance, but it included viewing all the animals too!  How nice is that!  I was strategizing that we should finish the run as fast as possible and then take our time to view the animals AFTER that.  Of course it didn't turn out the way I wanted and we ended up taking photos, selfies and wefies with all the different animal enclosures as the backdrop, just like the 4,999 other runners.  Ok, I exaggerated for there were some pretty serious runners we saw too, but you get the idea.
Stopping to take some Instagram photos as well!
Although the kids were happy with the medals, they were also told to really earn for them the next time round.
I was also kind of ashamed to admit that we didn't run the full 6km, as we were the very last family to START the race such that by the time we reached the Night Safari, we were actually offered a shortcut by the marshals which we sheepishly accepted.  On hindsight, we should have persevered and complete the race like winners do.  But we promise to do better the next time round!
We stayed back after the run and let the kids have some water fun in the Children's playground and also visited as many animal exhibits as possible.  I hope that more than made up for our non-completion of the race earlier, for I sure felt totally wasted at the end of the fun-filled day!  The run was really well-organized and the entire experience for the family was wonderful, much better than to some other running events I had ever been to.  The kids and I are so looking forward to future Zoo runs!  Thank you so much for the invite Wildlife Reserves Singapore!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The New Fab Four at Hakata Ikkousha, Chijmes


If there's one specific type of food that I really love, that would have to be Japanese food! From the various type of sashimi, fried tempura and of course to the different types of noodles such as soba, udon and of course ramen!  We only recently got to try out the ramen at Hakata Ikkousha located at Chijmes, a place I usually only walk pass till now, as I always had the feeling that the food within Chijmes is too overpriced.  The restaurant is actually not that big, and would probably only fit around 20- 25 diners comfortably. 

The first time that I visited Chjimes where Hakata Ikkousha is located at.
It looked and felt like another ramen chain that I liked to go, that offers free flow of hard boiled eggs as well.  Thus I was really eager to try the new Fab Four ramen that was launched only recently to see if they are really nice or not!  We first tasted the Soy Sauce ramen that came with pork belly slices, fish cake and ajitama (flavored-egg).  Soup base was flavourful and not too salty while the pork was tender too! The kiddos loved this ramen. I never got to try the egg as it was gone immediately after I took the photos.

Super appetizing Soy Sauce ramen ($12) which the kids loved very much!
Stacci's expression says it all!
Next up, we tried the Bonito ramen which is a special combination of chicken, pork and bonito broth! Ok, I love bonito and so I am biased.  I would always order the bonito ramen when I patronize the other ramen shop so this had to be my favourite ramen here!  I would say that although the broth is not as thick as the other place, this tasted just about right and I slurped down the broth with gusto. But my wife felt that it was too salty for her liking.

My favorite Bonito ramen ($13.50) that comes with the best tasting bamboo shoots, which I ate, which I would normally pass to others!
Wifey, who felt that the broth was a little too salty for her liking.
The next ramen we tried was the Chanpon which had stir fried crunchy vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and sweet peas as well as shiitake mushroom.  It really tasted like some stir fried Chinese vegetable dish, and even came complete with the "wok hei"! Did a quick google and found out that indeed Chanpon is the regional cuisine of Nagasaki, Japan. and drew its inspiration from Chinese cuisine.

Chanpon ($14), which tasted very much like chinese stir fried vegetables, only with noodles and in soup!
Finally the last dish we tried was the Hanadori which is really unique as the ramen and the very thick and rich chicken broth was being served separately.  It was something like eating soba and having to dip the noodles into the soy sauce.  The broth tasted heavy and "gelat" (overly sweet and salty) on it's own, but if used as a dip, brought just enough flavor to the otherwise plain ramen.  Worth a try, and the soup tasted of bonito too!  Was recommended to try out their very special chilli pepper on Chanpon and Hanadori, and I did.  It indeed gave the noodles the welcomed spiciness and improved the flavour of the dish too, provided you like chilli though!

Plain ramen with the super-rich chicken broth = Hanadori ($15)
Our experience at the restaurant was great, with the kids enjoying their Soy Sauce ramen, and having fun de-shelling and eating their hard-boiled eggs too.  I also loved their Bonito ramen and will definitely pop by the next time we are around the area, especially if I have the craving for ramen!  It is not as expensive as I thought it would be, even though it's located in Chijmes!  The Fab Four lives up to its name, just like my Fantastic Four (kiddos) back at home.

What? Free eggs?
Don't waste time liao! Leroy de-shelled and ate 2 eggs on his own!
My little glutton, Stacci!!!
Check out the various promotions available!
 Useful Information

Address: 30 Victoria Street, #01-07, CHIJMES
Opening hours: Mondays-Saturdays 11.30am-10pm; last order at 9.45pm and Sundays: 11.30am-9pm; last order at 8.45pm