Tag Archive | Nokia 6500

Eats: HK, Luowu & Macau

Although my recent trip to Hongkong, Shenzhen and Macau didn’t turn out to be the eating binge I had expected it to be, for reasons too varied and complicated to go into.. we did eat well and plenty.

Let me start with the last meal we had in HK be4 we flew home. Our flight was 4pm and we had checked in and cleared immigration and custom by 2pm. We were truly hungry by then as we had a fairly skimpy breakfast of bread and pastry bought overnight from the City Super food court at Gateway next to the hotel plus our trusty 3-in1 Kilin coffee brought all the way from Singapore and my self-concocted rolled oat n oat bran muesli. 

L was in a “I’m in charge mood” and declared she must have the ying-yang rice (a Hongkong speciality of Chinese meat and liver sausages plus choi sum) be4 we left, as she’s never been to HK without eating that dish and she wasn’t about to start.

We wandered from stall to the stall in the vast departure lounge food court at Chek Lap Kok airport till she found what she was looking for, when she sat me down to jaga our hand luggage and went off to get the food.

She returned with a veritable feast, including goose which I don’t eat. The yin-yang turned out to be just a generous portion of pork sausage (tasty, if a tad hard) but with the liver sausage (that I had looked 4ward to) replaced by wax fatty pork which I daren’t eat.

Still, hunger spoke louder than hang ups and we were half way thru be4 I remembered to take a pix.. of what remained to be polished off.

Cleaned out yin-yang

Cleaned out yin-yang

Be4 we left for HK, L had waxed lyrical abt the good and cheap sharksfin to be had at Luowu. She said we could each have a bowl at equivalent of S$20 and a bowl of rice to go with it. But as regaled in the earlier post, First, the disappointments, we didn’t get to eat sharksfin — cheap or otherwise.

So in the pix above the little plastic bowl with a plastic spoon and a pair of wooden chopsticks sticking out of it — sitting between the two bowls of half demolised yin-yang rice — is a bowl of sharksfin which L had bought for us to share. “My treat,” she declared. Wah, I replied, true or not?

Now that we’ve got sharksfin to “cleanse our mouths”, where’s the birds’ nest soup to rinse our hands? That’s an exaggeration of mega consumption at its worse and probably taken off some script of some satirical Cantonese film or TV show!

Clearly there was nothing left for birds’ nest, as the tiny plastic bowl cost HK$300 or almost what both of us spent to get around HK as well as across the border to Shenzhen.

The night be4 our departure should have seen us having a feast, as would be usual on holidays, but again for some reason we ended up eating at City Super’s food court! The pix of our meal I took somehow disappeared from my Nokia 6500 camera fone, as did the pix of our dinner at Pierside, the brasserie at Royal Pacific!

Perhaps it was the lighting or perhaps when the food mood isn’t good, the pix won’t show? While travelling with a tour group could lead to soured moods, travelling with one other could occasionally have its moments of tension too.

This is even when one party is most accommodating or precisely because of it. The side always being given in to may feel guilty or embarrassed; while the side always doing the giving in may feel subliminal resentment, even if at the conscious level, a generosity of spirit prevails. The result is a lose-lose situation.

More in a future post about the pros and cons of travelling alone, a deux, with a group of friends and a group of  strangers…

Where eating and sight-seeing was concerned in the HK trip, it might have enhanced things if there were more of us travelling together, as there would have been variety in company and preferences.

Well, back to what L n I ate.

First night on arrival, we hit Kin’s Kitchen at Tsing Fung Street (MTR station Tin Hau). According to L’s research, it was a private kitchen and since we had such a great experience at a Taipeh private kitchen we were taken to in February 08, I didn’t demur.

There was a problem however. We had to go for the 2nd sitting at 9pm, not exactly the best time for pple who had been up since 7am! What took the cake was that when we got there, we found it was a restaurant and nothing really that private about it, since it had a menu at the door, two chairs for waiting and an open glass concept that showed us that it was very popular — packed to the gills.

 We arrived at 8.30pm, hung around for 15 minutes (thank goodness the weather was fine; not even cold) and then I decided to muscle our way in. We were shown upstairs; waited for a vacant table; shown both a la carte and set menus and settled for the menu de jour, costing abt HKD200 per head.

Because I don’t eat goose, we asked for an adjustment and were promptly offered pork patties with salt fish.

I shan’t comment on the food. Let the pix of the main courses do the talking. Fact is, if I wanted home cooking, I would have stayed home. The service though was friendly enough, with the maitre’d chatty, making a marketing pitch about his boss having other “kitchens” such as Yellow Door Kitchen.

smoked chicky
smoked chicky
Nai bai, deep fried garlic cloves n dried scallop
Nai bai, deep fried garlic cloves n dried scallop
Meat patties with black vinegar

Meat patties with black vinegar

There was also a dessert of essentially chng tng with American ginseng (fa kei sum) added to boot. As I don’t take ginseng,  American or Korean, I left the sweet ending largely untouched.

Thank goodness therefore for the tram ride back to Admiralty from Tin Hau where fellow passengers were helpfully friendly, even if the tram driver wasn’t as kindly as the bus driver who took us to Stanley.

Talking of which, the meal at Stanley was scrumptous, even if it was eaten at what was a workmen’s cafe, rough, ready and rude. Crowded to the gills, we had to squeeze ourselves into a row of small tables meant for six, four places occupied by two lovebirds and their bags and jackets, and the remaining by two workmen taking their lunch break.

Needless to say we weren’t popular with the love birds who had to move their stuff but the workmen chomping down their hearty meal gave us enough welcome to make up for the big freeze.

L n I shared a set of rice with steamed fresh wan-yu (a type of fish) tail, with a billion bones that made talking and pix-taking difficult, especially when we were all sitting cheek by jowl. She took the milk tea that came with the set while I settled for a chilled Tsingtao costing an incredible HKD10! We also shared a steaming bowl of wanton noodle soup (below). The total lunch cost around HKD70! 

first of many wanton soups

first of many wanton soups

Looking over most of the food pix I took of this trip, the majority seems to be bowls of noodle soup of one kind of another.

The Sunday morning while waiting for MK to arrive from SIN, L and I split ways, as she wanted to visit Jordon and Mong Kok, to look at the flower and jade markets. Being a strictly utilitarian traveller, who skips sight-seeing of places I’ve been to be4 (unless I’ve intention to shop), I opted to explore City Super which was in the Gateway next to our hotel. Also, I was hoping to pick up some drinkable vino at HK prices (Chilean chardonnay as cheap as HKD35 at Taste supermart in Stanley Plaza).

Found some sauvignon blanc but not as dirt cheap as Stanley. Then took a break and ate this set (below) at City Super’s foodcourt be4 high-tailing back to the hotel to meet with L and MK. L had kindly packed my share of HK roasted meat lunch from her foray to local Hongkong which made for the perfect meal for MK who arrived ravenous from Singapore, having been on the road (or air more precisely) since 4.30am.

sunday lunch

sunday lunch

There wasn’t really any time to eat at Luowu, what with the detour to Dongmen and then my two companions spending over 2 hours for their feet, legs and body massages and then L and me dashing round madly to pick up “cheap” souvenirs and good buys.
So it was left to MK to organise a quick dinner which she did deftly at Fairwoods, a HK-grown fastfood chain serving local specialities and L and I just ate. As with all meals on the trip, the food might not be grand and the prices kind, but I still found myself eating with gusto. Perhaps it had something to do with making do with skimpy breakfasts every morning.
The next day saw me n L in Macau after an uneventful ferry ride and then made up for the previous night’s grab and run Fairwoods dinner by having a more than decent meal at one of the restaurants (more a cafe really) at the Venetians. Below was what we ate:
looks good but really more bones than meat!

looks good but really more bones than meat!

tender sweet sauce ribs

tender sweet sauce ribs

ho-hum fishball noodles

ho-hum fishball noodles

Cold Storage’s nemesis? C’est moi!

I’m beginning to suspect I’ve become something of a nemesis to the cashiers at Cold Storage Supermarket at Great World City. 

You see, I once again discovered a price discrepancy for one item, between what was posted on the shelf and what the cashier charged at the check-out when he scanned the item.

I never imagined I would once again find such mis-pricing, at least not so soon, at least not at the same supermarket, for heavens’ sake!

On two occasions in September I found that I was charged more than what was shown on the shelves and had blogged about that:

So, you could have knocked me down with a feather last Saturday when on a hurried sortie to pick up some items for the larder, I was again over-charged, this time for a litre of Pacific Natural Foods’ All Natural Hazelnut Milk.

Occasionally, as a change from Oatley oat milk, I treat myself to hazelnut milk, as much for a change as to stop my body from getting immune to one type of food.

Altho I buy the hazelnut milk infrequently I know the price very well as I have always thought it a bit odd that hazelnut milk should sell for less than oat milk, as I would imagine gm for gm, hazelnuts should cost more than oat.

But mine isn’t to reason why; mine is to buy.

At the check out I glanced at my receipt and was surprised to see that my litre of Oatley and the Hazelnut were priced exactly the same: $5.95. I queried the cashier and his reply was the standard:”The price has been increased.”

Tho the price difference was small I decided to march back, desite the weight of my two laden bags of grocery, to the shelves where other packs of Pacific Natural Foods stood and, using my trusty Nokia 6500, took a pix of the price on the shelf.

One part of me kept telling myself to let go; after all, it isn’t a lot of money. Another part of me was self-righteously indignant. It’s ridiculous. It’s the 3rd time. What are the odds of that happening 3 times to the same person at the same supermarket outlet?

All right, I’m not as brave as MK to tell pple on the MRT to give up their seats. I don’t as a rule make a fuss in a restaurant over the food or the service. But I think I can do something to make sure, whenever I’m aware, that a big supermarket chain like Cold Storage, a unit of MNC Dairy Farm, doesn’t get away with overcharging me.

And ta da! The pix showed the price as $5.65 but I was charged $5.95!

listed $5.65 but charged at $5.95

listed $5.65 but charged at $5.95

Triumphantly I went back to the cashier to “prove” that I was right but he was busy serving another customer who was buying two trolleys’ worth of goods. The woman looked familiar. I thought she might be a neighbour in my condo or someone I’ve seen be4 at the GWC food court where we go about twice a month.

Cold Storage cashiers probably have a system to summon help with “troublesome” customers because be4 I could go into a song and dance with the one who insisted that the hazelnut milk’s price had been increased, a strappy girl staff appeared, looked at my camera fone pix rather impatiently and then went off to check for herself.

She returned with a pack of hazelnut milk in her hand and mumbling about suppliers and prices, put the pack into one of my Cold Storage plastic bags which I had put in the space behind the cashier, as their weight was killing me.

It then dawned on me she was giving me an extra pack.

“Eh,” I said, “I’m embarrassed. I just wanted the price adjusted.”

“It’s our policy,” she said and in a tic was gone, so much so that as I was gathering my bags to leave, the cashier who had served me earlier turned round — he was done with the familiar looking woman who filled two shopping trolleys — and asked, “What did the supervisor say?”

“She’s giving me the box for free,” I replied and when he still looked uncertain, I added, perhaps a little (needlessly) defensively, “check with her if you don’t believe me.”

I went off a bit annoyed to have been put on the defensive. Though I don’t mind being given an extra pack to make up for the pricing mistake, I think it is too much to encounter not one but three errors within about six weeks.

If I were a Dairy Farm shareholder, I would be worried. Sure, supermarkets sell thousands of items but shouldn’t a greater effort be made to synchronise prices on the shelves and at the check outs?

Or do they rely on customers not to notice and “trouble makers” are fobbed off with a “reward”? 

Well, it looks like Cold Storage isn’t alone — in mis-pricing, I mean. A told me it happened to her at Watson’s — and at different outlets while S wrote more lengthily about her experience at Suntec’s Carrefour where her purchase of yellow capsicums was charged at more than twice the posted price.

The moral is: keep a close eye on prices when you are shopping, especially in supermarkets where because of the long check out queues, cashiers could make genuine mistakes while their employers are tardy with price updatings.

Yes, it’s a pain to double check, especially when the wait has been long, the trolley is full and some fellow customers may give you, at kindest, quizzical looks, as if to say “aiyoh y so ngeow”?

I think that’s probably what the lady who shopped till she filled up two trolleys thought about the exchange I had with the cashier serving her. Incidentally when writing this post, I suddenly recalled that she is none other than Dr Gillian Koh, an academic often appearing on TV programs to give her five cents worth.

Afterword:I think this wrong pricing business is going from absurd to ridiculous; Cold Storage is either raising prices so fast that they don’t have time to adjust or their floor staff are so short-handed or damned lazy, at least at GWC.

Hip, hip, hurry…

to Tin Hill Bistro Winebar at the corner of Bukit Timah Road and Sixth Avenue, because it’s one of those places that’s too classy for the neighbourhood and so may not be there for too long…

I went there for lunch on Sep 18 by default. Mrs T had invited. Perhaps she had read an earlier posting abt her, this time there was none of the usual to-ing and fro-ing abt where to go.

She suggested an Indian restaurant with a Russian sounding name at Sixth Ave Centre. I was none too keen because the parking situation there is quite a nightmare but I bit my tongue, in case she would flare up and say “I suggest u don’t like; ask u to suggest u don’t like..”

Thankfully, as I was queuing to go into the carpark below Cold Storage supermarket at Guthrie House, she called to say the restuarant she had chosen was closed and she would walk over and we could then decide where to go.

When she arrived, I suggested and she gladly accepted my suggestion, to try Tin Hill, a place I had just passed when my car turned into Sixth Avenue. I didn’t know much about the place except from what I read in a friend’s kid’s blog.

Weylin had written some nice stuff abt the place: The meal was very good, the mains aren’t expensive ($18-25 and less for the daytime sandwiches), the appetizers and the desserts are the same price at $10.90 which to my mind, does make the appetizers much more worthwhile.”

But since Weylin and the owner, Jaime, know one another, one can’t expect the review to be brutal, even if the food wasn’t so hot.

Still, i thought I should give it a shot and taste for myself.

When Mrs T and I walked in, the wait staff were friendly and wreathed in smiles. Indeed, as we learned at the end of the meal, one of them turned out to be Jaime, the owner.

“I’m glad we came here, the other place looked really tacky,” whispered Mrs T, obviously delighted that my suggestion turned out, on close-up, to be good to look at, and not long after, we found the food was good to eat too, particularly the desserts.

But I’m rushing ahead, so re-wind, re-wind: the menu was quite extensive but what attracted us was the basic set lunch and the executive set lunch, the difference between the two being the price, $14.50 versus $22, be4 all the pluses.

We hummed and hawed a bit and then both settled for the executive set, since the normal set had a sandwich ( Tin Hill called it “pide”) as the main.

For $22 + etc, we had for starters a choice between a Caesar salad with croutons and a tomato soup. We both chose the salad and I quickly asked if the croutons could be set aside.

The waitress said they won’t be mixed in with the salad but be put on top. I was pleasantly surprised when the salad came and the “croutons” turned out to be half a hard-hard biscuit-like mini baguette (I love biscuits). Also, there was a nice touch of red baby radish slices.

colorful Caesar

colorful Caesar

For mains, we had a choice of fish n chips or linguini carbonara. Again, we both opted for the linguini. It’s a long time since I’ve eaten anything carbonara, probably not since the last time I visited Pasta Fresca, n that’s perhaps a good decade ago.

So, I felt a bit uneasy when the linguini appeared swimming in a yellowish white cream sauce. Heck, it’s ages since I had a cream sauce.

“Er, can I have some vinegar please, balsamic vinegar?” (My fail-safe method for reducing the yukiness of cream or oil altho I always wonder silently whether I won’t make things worse if the dish curdled).

If the waitress was a bit non-plus, she neverthless kwai-kwai brought a thimble full of balsamic vinegar, and both Mrs T and I happily sprinkled our food with it.

And thankfully once again, the cream didn’t curdle and in my view the vinegar gr8ly improved the taste of the dish. Which was also helped gr8ly by generous portions of bacon bits that were more lean meat than fat.

 Unfortunately the pix (below) I took hasn’t turned out to be so gr8: so much for the Nokia 6500 boasting of a 3.2 megapixel cam with Carl Zeiss lens some more! 

balsamic to the rescue

balsamic to the rescue

 Then came coffee/tea and dessert. We both took coffee and were offered a choice of two kinds of dessert: passion fruit tart or chocolate cake. I opted for the first and Mrs T for the second.

“With or without ice-cream?” the wait person asked.

“Does it come with the lunch,” I asked, ever cautious not to raise my hostess bill needlessly, as I don’t take ice-cream normally, anyway.

“Yes, comes with the lunch.”

“In that case can I have it separately? I’ll put it into my coffee (my waste-not want-not principle kicking in).”

“Would you like expresso then?” the wait asked, helpfully.

“Expresso, oh no, normal coffee will do, thanks!” (As it was, I’ve started to live dangerously of late, going back to drinking coffee after lunch– something I had skipped for some time, imagining that it affected my bedtime. But seems not as recent venturings have shown).

“Normal coffee for me too,” echoed Mrs T, “with milk”.

The desserts came and wow! They were huge! As illustrated by my passion fruit tart pix below..

abt 6 cm in diameter enough for 2

abt 6 cm in diameter enough for 2

We were so carried away by how to finish such large helpings that I 4got to snap the chocolate cake which we asked to be packed to take away and which the restaurant obliged willingly.

The vanilla ice-cream went well with the coffee, and after Mrs T asked for her milk for her coffee a 2nd time and nothing appeared, she too did the peasant act like me: tipped her ice-cream into her coffee.

So how did Bukt Timah (Tin Hill) score?

I won’t say that prospecting for timah we found mas but I would definitely return because:

Value for money: check. Indeed reminded me of the days when Au Petit Salut was starting out in Holland Village.

Food good: check. Generally good, as reflected by the fact that Mrs T who isn’t a big eater finishing both her starter and her main up to 95% and we both finished the shared dessert 100%; ditto the coffee and the ice-cream.

Service good: check. Eager to please, as reflected by how the wait pple responded to all our requests, except one – milk for coffee, although that could have been a misunderstanding, due to my asking for the ice-cream to be put into my coffee, while Mrs T asked for both ice-cream and milk. 

One thing that annoyed a little but didn’t mar our experience overall is that after the coffee was served, one wait came and presented us with the bill in a folder, even tho we hadn’t ask for it.  Compounding this, someone came by twice to check whether we had done anything about the bill.

I can understand if the restaurant was full and there were other guests waiting. But after one lone diner ate up and left, there were only four guests remaining at two tables, including us.

This is one lapse that will make more picky diners swear off a repeat visit. Hope Jaime can spruce up on this aspect.

PS What almost gave me indigestion after lunch was that on driving out of Guthrie House, I was charged $9.64 for parking. This must surely be one of Singapore’s most expensive carparks, if not the most expensive — at least in the suburbs!

I had been there from a little after 12pm to perhaps 2.35pm!

PS2 My second visit to Tin Hill one week later left me less enthusiastic: https://singaporegirl.wordpress.com/2008/09/24/not-great-2nd-time-around/