Tag Archive | Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong

Oh, the pain of food inflation!

Earlier this week, the Government revealed that Singapore’s inflation rate is 5.2 percent in March, 2012. From 1962 until 2010, the average inflation rate in Singapore was 2.73 percent with an historical high of 34.00 percent in March of 1974 (following the oil price shocks) and a record low of -3.10 percent in September of 1976.

I should point out that the terrible high inflation rate almost 40 years ago was matched by bank or finance company deposit rates that were sky high. I remember mum enjoying 13 or 14 percent per annum interest while property prices were only a fraction of today’s prices. Mum sold a Grange Road walk-up flat for $64,ooo while our local helper and her husband bought a 3-room HDB flat in Avenue 2, Clementi for $12,000.

By contrast, today interest rates are about 0.5 to 0.75 percent per annum on average and no one can buy any meaningful roof over their head with the amounts I cited. Not even a COE, let alone a car.

Be that as it may.

But what struck me truly starkly about inflation was my return to Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong at Triple One Somerset on Monday for some comfort food.   

I hadn’t intended to go there but had a few errands to run in its vicinity. 

Then bad luck struck. I had removed my cash card from my IU be4 setting off because it had fallen below a certain value and its beeps were driving me mad. But I forgot to replace it with my other cash card with higher value.

And so I fell into a f-foul mood. That 50 cent ERP fee at the Orchard gantry would now have to be met with a hefty fine. FF mood not improved when I text LH for help “with a name, please” and got no response, because LH I guess doesn’t believe in extending help for such “petty” matters.

Errands done and feeling really sorry for myself, I needed some comfort food.

With Triple One just across the road from where I was, I was like a homing pigeon.

It’s been a while since I ate at Imperial Treasure Windows on HK.

The prices looked a bit higher but no matter.

I’m hugely a creature of habit and settled for Set B which comprised half a salted egg, one BBQ chik wing, some siew yoke (roast pork), some marinaded slices of squid and rice.

I was charged $8.50.

When the food came, I vaguely remembered there should have been an accompanying bowl of soup. But again, I was happy to eat some comfort food and didn’t want to stir up my FF mood again.

It wasn’t until today when i checked my blog that i discovered how prices have gone up at the Windows on HK cafe over less than 2 years.

When I first discovered the cafe in July 2010, I couldn’t stop singing its praise. As witness here!

Back then, the set I ate on Monday had come with a hearty Cantonese pork soup and was priced at $7.

I was quite miffed to discover a few months after that the rice and mixed meat dish had de-coupled from the soup. The main was priced at $6.50 while the soup was priced at $2. I ranted against the higher prices here.

Since then, prices have gone up even higher. Now the main is $8.50 sans soup. But then, that’s about what’s charged in most food courts, if one isn’t too careful with one’s selection, especially at brand name nasi padang stalls!

Even worse may come as suggested by this website  –which I must warn is trying to sell fear rather than hope.

And hope there should be. After all, didn’t I start this blog in 2008 with a post anxiously wondering if rice would reach $15 a kg after oil prices broke the USD100 mark?

Since that post, the world has been living more or less with oil prices above that defining level. Yet rice — if one settles for the no-frills variety — isn’t priced anywhere near $15. Yet! 🙄


Reunions with “Botak”

Peeved though I was with the higher prices of the once excellent value set meals at Imperial Treasure Windows of Hongkong, my Tuesday trip to Triple 1 at Somerset wasn’t entirely a wash out.

The food at Windows of Hongkong was still good, though the higher price stuck in my throat.

But my apres lunch discovery at Fairprice Finest, a hop, skip and jump away from the cafe — where me, mum and her Picky adjourned — to pick up groceries, veggies n fruits, made me want to skip and jump.

I found my Botak coconut again and tho vaguely remembering past disappointments since our first encounter at the same supermarket outlet many moons ago, I let my enthusiasm over-ride unhappy memories.

I grabbed three and it was only at the check-out that I remembered Picky’s last admonition as detailed here.

As there was no queue and the cashier was most obliging, I asked Picky to please take those I’d chosen back to the chiller cabinet to see if she could do better. She returned triumphant to declare she’s swopped my choices with better ones.

scraped clean

OK, the proof of the coconut is in the eating which we found out on reaching home. And each of the coconuts had plentiful delicious water and tender flesh that was good to the last scrape, as this picture (right) testifies.

So is Picky Siti such a fantastic coconut picker?

Who knows?

Yesterday, I happened to walk into another Fairprice outlet — this time at City Square where I had gone to buy nuts from Pat’s Oven, which arguably in my experience sells the best nuts in Singapore.

I wasn’t looking for coconuts at Fairprice but for cut-price oranges for juicing and Fairprice’s prices run neck and neck with a no-frills fruit store in Bendemeer and sometimes even better.

That’s how I found another pile of Botaks and promptly bought three, even though I didn’t have the self-proclaimed coconut expert with me.

Guess what?

I’m delighted to share that all my picks were excellent, perhaps even better than those that Picky picked.

My conclusion: nothing or very little to do with choosing. And very much to do with what’s available at the supermarket!

Another food disappointment

As visitors would know, I can’t sing louder the praises of the value for money and the tastiness of the food served at Imperial Treasure Windows of Hongkong at Triple 1 Somerset.

Alas, today’s visit was a disappointment. The rice set of meat, chicken, seafood and half a salted egg plus a sizeable bowl of real Cantonese soup, meaty with a generous helping of watercress or fenguo, is no more. At least not at $7! 

The soup has been removed from the set and sold separately at $2! While the rice and its accompaniments are sold at $6.50!

If I want the soup as well, then I would have to pay $8.50,  or a rise of 21%.

Below is the original set with watercress soup bought on Oct 7 for $7.

Today, I paid $6.50 just for the plate of rice + meat, no soup. Still, soup or no soup, the rice dish looked so good that as I was leaving, the two women at the next table called out to say they would have the same the next time they eat at Imperial Treasures.

“You seem to enjoy that,” they said.

“I sure did!” But I would like it a heck of a lot better had soup been included and the price hadn’t risen!

roast pork, a whole chicken wing, sotong slices, salted egg, veggie and soup

Not all coconuts are created equal

It had started with my discovery of Triple 1, the Cinderella of Somerset Road, which I mentioned in a post  and with that, the discovery of Imperial Treasure Windows on Hong Kong.

It was after my first satisfactory lunch at Windows on HK that then led me to the new Fairprice Finest outlet at one corner of Triple 1. Nowhere near as complete in product range as FF in Thomson Plaza or Bukit Timah Plaza but I found something that made my household drool and wanting more.

Triple 1’s FF had on offer Botak coconuts at $1 each, down from I don’t know what, since it’s not a regular item. I bought enough for all at home.

If I had any reservations about the price — implying that the product was being gotten rid of in a hurry — I was wrong.

We found the cocounts had plentiful amount of good juice and the flesh very tender but not so tender that there was no bite — you know, the translucent sort which turns almost to water as you scrape it off the inner shell.

So we were hooked, and everyone wanted more but over many days, we never got to go back to Triple 1. Mum’s maid while shopping at the wet market even called back to report sighting botak coconuts.

Be4 I said “buy”, I asked her to check the price. $2 each? Forget it.

However, the longer we went without, the more we kept thinking about that delicious taste of Botak’s flesh and juice.

So much so that the next time I saw what I thought was Botak coconut at Fairprice’s Square 2 outlet, I immediately bought several “Botak” coconuts, even though the labels just declared them as Thai coconuts and despite the fact that they were priced at $1.65 each, 65% higher than what i last paid.

When I got home, mum’s Picky Siti triumphantly declared them to be the wrong type, not Botak. She was proven right. Although there was plentiful juice, the flesh was tough, almost tough enough for grating — what one commonly calls “lau yah”, old coconut or Chinese slang for “lousy”.

At that point Picky Siti gave me a lesson in picking the right Botak coconut, not from a tree but from a supermarket chiller.

1) Botak coconuts are truly botak with all the husk removed

2) Botak coconuts’ tops are not cut for easy opening, unlike the coconuts (on the left of the picture below) and which I had bought mistaking them for Botaks.

3) Botak coconuts’ tops aren’t cut but could be easily prised open with a gentle tap.

4) There are all versions of coconuts in the supermarket and if they are marketed as young, Thai or fresh coconuts, they aren’t Botak coconuts.

I’m now well versed in coconut lore. Pity, I haven’t been able to find Botaks at bargain basement prices lately but I shall keep looking.

Botak not among these

Sour story of food business — by Manis Manis

We went for lunch at Manis Manis today, a fav hangout of my sister, mum and her maid, the ever picky Siti, though not for me, mainly because I hate open carparks and at Turf City where MM is, one can only park in the open.

The lunch was as usual uneventful and not too pricey with the Es Avocado at $2.50 a pop the high-point of the meal for everyone, especially me.

However, today after the meal, I got a bonus nugget of information — which for me was the high point — though for the Manis Manis owner it was probably the low point.

It started with me pointing out that his receipt printer appears to have run out of ink and his replying no, it’s not the ink; just that the printer was old but he wasn’t about to spend several thousand dollars to replace it… his voice trailed off.

I asked empathetically: “You are planning to close?”

His body language signalled yes, but he didn’t say so, not in so many words. Instead he gave me the maths.

“You know, if I’ve 100 customers per day, my cost is $9 per head, before food cost. And you know how full I must be to have 100 customers? Two full house! And if I’ve only 50 customers, my cost per head is $18.”

I did a quick calculation in my head. Our bill for 3 (mum, maid and me, as sister was at home languishing over a dreaded event) came to $34. So, if Manis Manis serves fewer than 100 pax today, the owner would surely not make anything from us.

Mr Owner, ex-Seagate man, still wasn’t done. He told me the rent was low — and I must agree it is, at $6,000 a month for a place that’s easily about 2,000 sq ft with good frontage. But add in staff costs and aircon, water and electricity and the fixed costs mount, he confided.

Still, Mr Owner isn’t throwing in the towel yet, as food is his hobby he said, and his inheritance because his family has a long history in the food business. Moreover, when he took over the premises, the previous tenant had spent $300,000 on renovations and that he said “is my profit”.

Seeing how Manis Manis is struggling in far away Bukit Timah, I wonder just how Imperial Treasure Windows on Hong Kong with its $6 per head or less meal at Triple 1 Somerset is going to keep cooking up good food and service at those prices!

Oops, erratum!

Yesterday’s post about the cheap, good and delectable Imperial Treausre Windows on Hong Kong had located it at 311 Somerset Road.

I stand corrected.

It seems that the number is 111 or Triple 1, not 311.

So, Pei , I did get the number wrong, but not because I was thinking 313 and typed 311 but because I thought it was 311 and typed 311 when it was in fact 111!


Imperial feed for Queen Scrooge

I like counting my pennies. I don’t splurge needlessly and like a good friend who travels the world to visit her children, one of whom owns a home sitting on several acres in Connecticut, I like to share the fact that I spend very little on clothes and accessories.

With footwear, I stretch a little, after a terrible fall I suffered in the lane between Lucky Plaza and Tang Plaza some three years ago. It was largely due to the non-grip on the soles of my pair of trendy but cheap sandals.

As visitors to this blog would know, I eat more often at food courts than high end restaurants.

I know exactly how much chilli, spring onion and Chinese parsley cost in Faiprice as compared to what Cold Storage charges.

So, when I say something is a steal, I’m usually right.

A right imperial steal is what’s being served up at a new cafe in the former PUB Building, now called 311, diagonally across from  313 @ Somerset, the hot and happening place of today (tho that hasn’t stopped two food outlets from closing).

I would never have contemplated going over to 311 — because it looks so staid — if not for the fact that after my lunch with Z at Flying Chillies she said she was going to cross the road to 311 to meet her sister-in-law.

So, i was galvanised to recce and then visit and that’s why I was at 311 again today to have lunch, the second time in a month. 

There are many cafes there, but on both visits, I settled for Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong, a noodle house like those Crystal Jade is famous for. But the similarity stops there.

Imperial Treaure Windows is ginormous, with a lot of space between tables. The ceilings are high. The aircon effective. We order and pay at the door, find a table and the food is then delivered to us. Plain water is free. Each diner is given a chopstick pack comprising a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, a paper serviette and a toothpick.

The service is polite and jolly (similar to that dished out at Crystal Jade’s cafes).

But prices are far lower at ITWindows and quoted net. A large delicious creamy century egg and salted meat rice porridge in typical Hong Kong style, for example, costs just $5.50 while soy sauce steamed chicken noodle, soup or dry, is $6.

The lunch for three of us today came to $17.50. The first lunch cost $18, as all three of us had the chicken noodle dish.

Now compare these prices to what we paid at the 5th floor food court at 313@ Somerset earlier last week. Again the three of us ate together, me, mum and her maid. We had yong tau foo and the bill for 2 combis (mum and I were sharing) came to $11.50. Had we taken 3 combis, the total bill would easily be as much as what we paid today.

Yet instead of just placing our order, we had the stress of having to queue and then assemble our own combi, completely unsure how much it would come to as the basic minimum of 6 pieces excluded noodles or beehoon, and nobody told us that it’s an extra. Other additionals were also priced differently.

Then, there was the need to take the two steaming bowls of combi to our table, keeping an eager eye out for the bat blind office crowd as it rushes from table to the stalls or vice versa.

So give me ITWindows any time. And should I need to splurge, there are pricier dishes too. But that will have to wait till I feel less abstemious.

value for money treasure