The Princely Treasures from the House of Lichtenstein Review

Art is a means to record and tell history, not just a decorative item.

That was my main realisation when I visited the Princely Treasures from the House of Liechtenstein exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. The exhibition comprises over ninety masterpieces, collected over five hundred years, from the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein.

The many art pieces on exhibit allowed the visitors to have an understanding of the Princes’ life in Liechtenstein back then, such as their activities as well as the architectures that they stayed in.

Seeing the art pieces perform such a function made me realise that the method which we use to record history and capture memories of the past have changed over time. In the past, we use art (drawing, painting etc) to illustrate what happened. Now, we use photographs to capture our life events and other memories.

In addition, Art can also help to illustrate stories, bringing the characters to life. This can be seen by the many Art pieces by the Baroque Artists that illustrate and depict certain parts and characters of the bible. The characters were painted so well such that you would be forgiven for feeling that they are actually alive in the painting.

In fact, that was the one big common feature of all the art pieces exhibited. The artists captured the “souls” of the characters so well through their illustration of the facial expressions and eyes. The colour they used also allowed the subject of the painting to seem so real such that it looked 3D in the photos I took with my phone.

The Princely Treasures from the House of Liechtenstein exhibition was definitely worth the time. The quality of the collection is so impressive such that you would most likely leave the exhibition in awe of the artistry behind those works.

The Princely Treasures from the House of Lichtenstein exhibition will be held from the 27 June to 29 September 2013, 10am-6pm daily. Do visit http://www.nationalmuseum.sg for more information.    

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Hougang Polyclinic Review

Hougang Polyclinic is one of the many polyclinics under the National Healthcare Group. My recent visits to the Hougang Polyclinic have left a deep impression in me.

Firstly, the service by the staff was outstanding. From the nurses who were handling the registration to the pharmacists who passed the medication to me, every single staff that I have come in contact with was very friendly and helpful. Despite the heavy workload that they had, they were very patient when dealing with patients. The doctors also showed genuine care and concern when I told them about my illness, unlike some general practitioners that I had visited before.

Secondly, the systems and flows in place at the polyclinic caught me with surprise. Knowing that the waiting time was going to be long due to long patient queues, Hougang Polyclinic put in place a system whereby an “estimated time of consultation” was printed on the queue number slip that I got at the registration counter. With that estimated time of consultation, it gave me the flexibility and option to spend the time from the moment I got the queue slip, to the estimated time of consultation, in whatever way I liked. I used the time to have breakfast at the nearby McDonalds.

Although I still had to wait for another half an hour after the estimated time of consultation for the actual consultation (of course, it was just an estimated time), the wait could have been longer and more of a bore if that system was not in place.

All in all, the experience at Hougang Polyclinic was memorable.

Dated: 16 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Lao Ban Review

I was quite surprised when I first tasted the Beancurd served at Lao Ban.

Instead of the traditional texture, Lao Ban’s beancurd texture was more like that of a jelly. Apparently, such jelly-like beancurd is the fad nowadays. The beancurd is quite sweet. Hence, it is more for those who don’t mind a sweeter beancurd and not for those who have a habit of having less syrup added to their serving of traditional beancurd.

Personally, I still prefer the traditional beancurd. It might be because I have grown accustomed to the traditional texture and the manual mixing of syrup with the beancurd on the spot when they serve you. May be the jelly-like nature of the Lao Ban beancurd just make it, well, not the beancurd I know of anymore.

Nonetheless, for those who want to find out what the jelly-beancurd fad is about, Lao Ban is good outlet to go as the taste is still pretty good and it’s one of the most popular outlet in Singapore.  

Dated: 16 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Udders Review

There are so many ice-cream outlets in Singapore nowadays such that ice-cream lovers would be spoilt for choice. I have tried Udders a few times and I liked it pretty much.

My friends and I visited the one at myVillage at Serangoon Gardens. My oh my, it took us some time to find it as it was located way at the back of the mall at one corner on the first floor. The place is pretty crowded, as is the case with many of the Udders outlets.

We tried the bestsellers, Snickers Mars Honeycomb Vanilla and Strawberry Fields. It was interesting eating the Snickers Mars Honeycomb Vanilla ice-cream, as you will not know if you are going to taste snickers bits or Mars bits until the ice-cream is in your mouth. As a berry-lover, I liked the Strawberry Fields one a lot, although I must admit that it does not have as much real fruit than the berry ice-creams served at Cold Stone Creamery.

Nonetheless, Udders is a decent ice-cream outlet to go for a starter, if you are really clueless on which ice-cream outlet to start with, as it offers a rather big variety of flavours including popular ones such as the D24 Durian and Rum Rum Raisin flavours.   

Dated: 15 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Cold Stone Creamery Review

I was so glad when I saw there was no queue outside of the Cold Stone Creamery branch at Orchard Central in the early afternoon. I decided to try Cold Stone Creamery at last, after hearing so many positive reviews about it.

To be honest, I was quite puzzled on what to order, as the menu was full of different quirky and fun names, with many different types of add-ons. I went for Our Strawberry Blonde and Chocolate Devotion eventually. I was impressed by their act of mixing the different ingredients, ice-cream and add-ons together in front of the customers. It was quite an entertainment. Oh my, the staff must have practiced very hard to master those skills.

The Our Strawberry Blonde was very fruitful indeed. There’s an abundance of the real strawberries, unlike some other ice-cream shops which give very little of the real fruit. Together with the caramel, the overall taste was very sweet. It really satisfies people with a sweet tooth, like me. The Chocolate Devotion offered a different taste. The chocolate was very thick, such that it would please the chocolate lovers very much but leave the neutrals feeling tired of it half-way through. Also, the waffles were nicely done. They were crispy and rather addictive.

The service made me feel very welcome, and the ambience was great for chilling out in a hot afternoon.

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Dated: 13 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Streats Hong Kong Cafe Review

I have never been fond of the food served at Hong Kong Cafes, as I often find them average and not worth the price. To me, Hong Kong Cafes are only good for their rather chill ambience.

However, I must admit that my previously held convictions about the food at Hong Kong Cafes have been swayed by my experience at Streats Hong Kong Café.  My Mum and I chanced upon the outlet at City Square Mall. We ordered their chef recommendations – Macau Fried Rice with Chicken Chop and HK Fried XO Seafood Noodles.

The Macau Chicken Fried Rice tasted special; it had that extra bit of flavour. Both the fried rice itself and the sauce were sweet, with the subtle taste of tomatoes. Together with the tender chicken chop, the whole dish was savoury. The HK Fried XO Seafood Noodles were very tasty as well. It does not take an expert to know that they have controlled the fire over which they fried it very well. The aroma was great. The seafood such as Prawns and Sotongs were decent. One disappointing factor was that we could not really taste the XO. We were both taken aback by the large portions they served for both dishes.

 All-in-all, the food was great, there was warm service and the ambience was decent. It’s worth the money.   

Dated: 13 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.comImageImage

Nakhon Kitchen Review

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Nakhon Kitchen, which started its first outlet at Kovan, has grown in popularity over the last few years. Staying around the same area, I have tried the food there for 3 times on different occasions. I can vouch that the standard of the food has remained consistent.

The must-tries at Nakhon Kitchen are: Pandan Leaf Chicken, Tom Yam Soup and Fried pork with garlic. The Pandan Leaf Chicken is a good appetizer to start your meal with; the chicken meat is still succulent despite it being barbequed and has that subtle Pandan fragrance. The Tom Yam Soup has the sweetness that is quite close to what you will taste if you were to taste original Thai food. However, it can be a bit too spicy. If you want to go for a milder option, you can also order the Tom Ka Soup (Tom yam soup with coconut milk).

One food to avoid at Nakhon Kitchen is their Thai Curry. I have tried all their different types of curry, such as green curry and jungle curry. I must say that their curry have been disappointing. They either taste too bland, like the green curry, or they taste too spicy such that the whole taste of the curry is lost, like the jungle curry.

Those looking for dessert at Nakhon can try their Red Ruby. It is not too sweet and is a good option to conclude your meal with.

Dated: 13 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Zouk Review

Zouk is one of the most popular night-life destination in Singapore. It’s the top choice of many youngsters who are looking to party and club the night away.

If you are going to Zouk, do be prepared to see large crowds on the dance floor. This is especially the case on Wednesdays, which are “Ladies’ Nights” and entry for ladies is free.  You will not get much space to move around, let alone dance to music, as the crowd will be packed like sardines. An advice – the guys should dance around your own female friends to prevent them from becoming victims to any outrage of modesty, as there have been a few cases before.

Nonetheless, Zouk is still the place to go to if you are looking for hot music remixes and the party atmosphere. The DJs there are also pretty popular. For one, DJ Ghetto did a pretty good job rousing the crowd. The common practice is to drink alcohol before entering Zouk, as it is definitely more costly buying alcohol inside. However, do be careful not to get drunk or wasted even before you get inside, as it is quite common for people to do so.

Dated: 13 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on Smartlocal.com

Cafe Brios Review

I got to try the dinner buffet at Café Brios thanks to an invitation to my friend’s 21st Birthday. I doubt I would actually try out Café Brios on my own; it’s so expensive. I can summarise the experience in 3 aspects – Variety, Quality and Local.

The best thing of the dinner buffet was its variety. There were so many different types of food on the table! From appetizers to desserts, there were just so many choices – Local, Japanese, Indian, Western and many more.

The quality of the food varied. The memorable ones would be the Laksa, Otah, Indian curry, the chicken chops and Cheesecake. The disappointing ones would include the Fried Carrot Cake and the Sashimi.  The fried carrot cake tasted quite bland, while the Sashimi was not as fresh as what you can get from other less costly Japanese restaurants. Overall, the food quality met expectations of a high-end buffet.    

One thing that stood out was that the buffet offered a lot of local delights, such as Laksa, Prawn Noodles, Satay and Roti-prata. Even the drinks offered were catered to the local taste buds – Bandung being one of them.  

All in all, there was a big variety of food, which is of decent quality and local-oriented. However, I still think it is too expensive and there are more value-for-money options out there.

Dated: 13 July 2013

Note: This article has been published on smartlocal.com

Food Review: Qiji

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Looking for a place to savour local delights in air-conditioned comfort, but tired of the standardised offerings served in food courts? Qiji is the place to go for you!   

The highlight would be the Nasi Lemak. It comes in 5 set options. Nasi Lemak lovers will know that what makes or breaks it is the chilli. What makes Qiji’s Nasi Lemak memorable is the sweetness of the chilli, which complements its spiciness.

 If you are bored of the common fried chicken wing to go along with the rice, you can always try the Chicken Chop. Its breaded crust adds another layer in its texture, making it crunchy on the initial bites and soft on the inside.  The disappointing part though, was the rice – it was supposed to be green in colour according to the picture on the menu but turned out white; it’s not one of the most aromatic rice around.

Otherwise, you can always go for their other popular offerings like their Mee Rebus and Laksa.

The serving’s just right, it is halal, and it is worth the money. So why not consider Qiji the next time you are craving for some local delights? 

Dated: 12 July 2013

A slightly edited version has been published on Smartlocal.comImageImage