· WITH THE GADGET–LOVING CAFFEINE JUNKIE ·

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Where to Stay in These Asia Cities

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a roof over our heads while overseas, from Airbnb and couchsurfing to holiday rentals and hotels. So what are your considerations in choosing where to stay when planning a trip abroad? For me, it should be within my travel companions' and my budget, and conveniently located so that most places on our itinerary are either within walking distances or just a few train stations away. This means we try to stay near a train station on a line that requires the least number of transfers, unless on a road trip where our accommodations should be enroute with parking options. And I avoid those that look dilapidated or dirty in photos, or whose bad reviews are also my areas of concern. These are my recommendations if you are going…

Hong Kong
Cordis, Hong Kong at Langham Place (formerly Langham Place, Hong Kong) is part of Langham Hospitality Group whose 30 properties span 4 continents. Located above a cooked food centre, it is linked to Mongkok MTR station via Langham Place Shopping Mall that was in the news earlier this year for an escalator accident. Stay indoors and near to your hotel on a typhoon warning signal 3 day  eat dim sum at Jasmine Garden, buy baked goods at Kee Wah Bakery or Maxim's Cakes and shop 'til you drop. Walk back once the signal 8 is hoisted as there will no public transport. There is a herbal tea shop beside the hotel, cha chan teng chain Tsui Wah Restaurant across the road and Hui Lau Shan Healthy Desserts round the corner. Chose this as it has rooms that can accommodate up to 4 adults and will choose it again for its clean rooms, pleasant and helpful staff. I loved its location, bathroom amenities and bedroom slippers too.

Osaka, Japan
Namba Dotonbori Hotel is, as its name suggests, near Dotonbori and its nearest station is Namba on the Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line. While it was established in 1970, the "4 statues" in front of the hotel were built in 1991 and represent its goal of striving to offer the best hospitality services to people from around the world  Asians, Africans, Arabs and Westerners. Again, I chose this because it has rooms that can accommodate up to 3 adults. My travel companions and I enjoyed the complimentary sushi-making experience, part of its monthly-updated events for guests to experience Japanese culture such as wearing Kimono and pounding rice to make mochi. Other complimentary services provided by the hotel include drinks and international calls (up to 5 minutes) at its lobby, bicycle and stroller rental. There is also no lack of food and retail options within walking distance.

Seoul, South Korea
Lotte City Hotel Seoul Mapo is a business hotel near Gongdeok station on Seoul Subway Line 5, Line 6, AREX and the Gyeongui-Jungang line. This means you can take the Airport Railroad Express from Incheon Airport, or the airport limousine bus which stops nearer to the hotel than the AREX. Within the hotel building is a Paris Baguette and Lotte Super for guests to conveniently buy Korean instant noodles, seaweed and citron tea. Nearby, join the locals to eat jokbal or pork trotters, jeon and twigim reminiscent of our ngoh hiang prawn cracker. Buy roasted chestnut, corn and sweet potatoes from a street vendor at night or try Korean fried chicken, kimbap and samyetang (ginseng chicken soup). There is also a shuttle service to Ewha Woman's University, Gyeongbokgung, Insadong, Myeongdong and Nandaemun. The rooms were clean, staff attentive and helpful. Oh, and I can buy yummy Preferé ice-cream to eat everyday.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sugisawa

There are many Japanese restaurants at Robertson Quay, so much so that we were spoilt for choice and took a while to decide which to visit. The decision was made harder with no crowd in any of them and hardly any food (that other patrons were eating) for us to see if it looks good. It was too early for dinner and some places were just opening. In the end, we settled for Sugisawa as there was something for everyone. Could neither rave about nor fault the trio of appetiser, potato salad and smooth Chawanmushi. While the ebi tempura was not too oily, could not say the same of its deep-fried lady's fingers and pork that was also a tad tough. The yakitori was too sweet for my liking and its rice utterly disappointing  not only was it not Japanese rice, it was one of the worst I have ever eaten.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Kam's Roast

Have wanted to try Kam's Roast since its opening last November in Singapore, its 2nd branch and the only outside Hong Kong. Located on the 1st floor of Pacific Plaza beside Michelin-starred Tsuta Ramen, it is in the same building as another Michelin-starred restaurant  Tim Ho Wan on the 2nd floor. Kam's Roast Goose, founded by the 3rd generation of the founder of my favourite Yung Kee (what a mouthful), has been awarded a Michelin star in Hong Kong since it opened in 2014. We were seated immediately when we visited on a weekend for late lunch. My dining companion ordered crispy roast pork rice while I had seasonal vegetable soup noodles and we shared a quarter-portion of roast duck. While I loved the springy noodles, could neither rave about the pork nor fault the tender and succulent duck. If only the skin was crispier.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Boiler Seafood Bar and Beer

There are a few places in Singapore that serves seafood in a bag where diners are expected to dig in with their hands, whether or not the contents are poured onto tables covered with paper or plastic that will be thrown away after every meal. No placemats, crockeries and cutleries. The concept from Louisiana was started in 2012 by The Cajun Kings (it has since closed), followed by Crab in Da Bag in 2013 and Dancing Crab in 2014. Another who jumped on the bandwagon in the same year as the latter, was The Boiler Seafood Bar and Beer, located off MacPherson Road in an ulu industrial estate. Not where you will expect. As it continues to give a free Boston lobster to every birthday baby who orders a Boiler's Bombdiggity Bag, my dining companions and I decided to try it. This promotion must be selected when making reservations through its website or Facebook, or HungryGoWhere's website or mobile app.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Tamashii Robataya


Have wanted to try Tamashii Robataya, located on the 2nd floor of a row of shophouses along North Canal Road, for a while and finally made a reservation for lunch on a weekday. It was my dining companion's first time trying robatayaki or Japanese grill served on Samoji, a long wooden oar that Japanese fishermen used to serve their catch centuries ago. Seated at the counter where fresh ingredients separated us from the chefs, we could watch our orders being prepared. Lunch sets come with rice, refreshing salad and pickles, succulent salmon sashimi, mix mushroom in butter sauce that I could not fault and homely Ton Jiro  Japanese soup made with pork and vegetables, and flavoured with miso. There was nothing to rave about its Tsukune Steak (grilled minced chicken with onsen egg) and Sake Teriyaki or grilled salmon with teriyaki sauce. The highlight of our meal was the Maccha and Goma ice-cream, that is, green tea and black sesame flavours.