Tag Archive | Sixth Avenue

Galloping inflation: spend $ or lose $

Most people have been grumbling about rising prices in Singapore but babes, we are nowhere as bad as countries like Argentina, Britain in the pre-Thatcher era and so on and so forth. And horrors, remeber Zimbabwe?

This said, there are signs that if we aren’t careful, our earnings and hard-achieved savings may lose their purchasing power faster than we can say “best in Singapore and Batam”.

Already, as anyone with an interest in owning a car or in changing one would tell you, that the $50,000 you have been stashing away for 2+ years to buy a Korean basic is today unable to even buy the most basic COE.

Still, that’s hyperinflation due to government policy and the G can do something about it if it wants to.

Not so sure about food inflation though.

One of my ex-colleagues posted in Facebook last week that raisin buns at Breadtalk are now costing $1.90 each.

As i don’t eat raisin buns I didn’t feel incensed. But I’ve newly acquired a taste for one of Breadtalk’s offerings called Black Pearl. I first bought one on Nov 8 at the City Square outlet and it cost $1.50. The following day I bought two at Bishan Junction 8¬†and it cost $3.20, or $1.60 each.

When i said there must have been a mistake in the price, the cashier said “cannot b, all our prices are the same.”

So, a 10 cent price rise in one-day??

Still I can stomach this for sure since it’s an optional treat, as is my occasional teh-si siew tai fix. Still i noticed that the $1.40 I’ve been paying several times at the Raffles City food court Toast Box cost me $1.80 at the Somerset 313 food court. Is it a matter of inflation or location? ūüôĄ

But more troubling must be the property price rises that despite the G’s apparent effort to keep the lid on them — which instead looks like a bubbling cauldron over which the witch has lost control. Press one side of the lid down and another side pops up!

While the media trumpet about Sentosa bungalows and GCB’s on the main island, i found some truly awesome figures when trawling the URA website.

A Sixth Avenue bungalow in Ming Teck Park of some 12,000 sq ft sold for $12m some time last year. This year, another bungalow in the same estate of some 10,000 sq ft sold for $21 million. And these aren’t even GCBs for heavens sake! ūüė•

If this isn’t enough, looking thru the stproperty.sg website I saw that units at Bishan Loft are asking for well over a $1 million each. And this is just an executive condominium when it was completed in 2004!

What does this mean for you and me who have some savings but not enough to buy a property or even a car?

Go and spend it babes in the only way that needs replenishment every few hours!  Eat!

For those a lot richer — got car, got assets, got class — you must find¬†more ways¬†to inflation proof the cash pile that’s piling up faster than you can even think. Buying up SG Inc — prooerty or companies — may not be a bad idea, especially if your cashflow isn’t SG-sourced! That’s exactly what the likes of ThaiBev are doing..

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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/

Raffles Marina’s back-handed gift

As someone who¬†loves freebies, provided they are truly freebies — with no strings attached — I always find it an insult when around my birthday I get a bunch of “gifts” — from NTUC Income, Metro, Tangs, Tanglin Club, Raffles Marina etc etc. In short any vendor¬†to whom I’ve ever given my date of birth.

It’s not that I look a gift horse¬†in the mouth but because¬†almost all send vouchers¬†that aren’t gifts at all but cheap gimmicks to get¬†me to spend something at their establishments.

So, over the years, I’ve learned to toss out most of the vouchers, “free gifts” (sic, if it ain’t free it ain’t a gift, geddit?) and other vultures dressed as pressies.

I toss out the $50 gift voucher from Tanglin Club — too many stipulations: it¬†must be spent¬†in the Churchill Room. Which is fine but then there’s a minimum spend + I must use¬†it only for dinner. As the C Room is the most expensive facility, it means literally I must spend several times more to enjoy that $50. Hence the gift isn’t worth anything to me, not even the cost of the card it’s printed on.

The vulture-gift from Singapore Cricket Club¬†is 15% discount for the pleasure of eating in the Padang, also the club’s most expensive outlet. Not only that: the prices¬†of practically every item on the menu scream “the best of fine dining”; altho the results don’t quite match up, in my experience.

The discount is increased to 20% if the eating is done at dinner time on a Sunday. O, the generosity simply blows my mind! No prize for guessing what I’ve done with their “vulture”.

There is, or more accurately was, one club about whose birthday gift I used to sing its praises, for not having any conditions. $50 says the voucher and $50 value it would be. Eat anywhere; pay for food and drinks.

Alas, I don’t think Raffles Marina’s gift is that great any more. In fact it makes me mad to think I had actually fallen for its gimmick on Saturday.

We ordered four Botak coconuts, 2 garlic naans, fish tandoori, nasi goreng istimewa, grilled fillet of salmon, caesar salad and a glass of white wine. The bill came to $91.81, and after deducting the $50 “vulture”, I had to pay $41.81.

So what’s the beef you might ask. My beef is that even without the “gift”, I needed to pay abt $46! As an RM member entitled to 50% discount on all food and beverages over a certain number of years (in exchange for giving up certain privileges), I gained just abt $5, because when I used the “vulture”, I wasn’t allowed to claim the 50% discount, not even on the amount in excess of the vulture’s value. Which to me is ridiculous and makes the so-called gift not a gift at all.

Worse was the fact that the food served at RM’s Bistro was atrocious (quite unlike its standard in the recent past), except perhaps for the coconuts (I’m quite generous: actually one of the four coconuts we were served was definitely older than my mum, bringing to life the saying “Lau Yar” which means OLD COCONUT and colloquil for lousy). The nasi goreng looked all right but I won’t know what it tasted like: that was for Siti, the maid.

Of the remaining four dishes, the caesar salad was passable but not the remainder. The salmon was grilled or pan-fried to death. The flesh was almost like saw dust.

The naans dripped with oil, even after I made a desperate attempt to take out the oil with the paper napkins (which incidentally we weren’t given till we asked for them, as well as for some missing utensils and serving plates!!) The fish tandoori was hard and tasted as if they had been cooked perhaps many moons ago¬†n reheated– stone hard and again swimming in oil.

The only thing I had to be thankful for was that I didn’t actually go to celebrate my birthday. Just to have a¬†tasty Saturday lunch with the family which in reality turned out to be anything but. And no, we barely touched the naan and the fish, breaking them up to take away for some stray dogs off Sixth Avenue. We hate wasting food, even if someone had ruined it.