Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Olive Ristorante@Labrador

The main attraction about Olive Ristorante is its proximity to the rustic charm of nature. Whirring fans, bamboo chairs, twining vines and colourful jungle-patterned tables complete the rainforest setting. A very tropical and breezy setting. However, this outdoor, no-walls dining also means the heat and humidity stays with you all through your meal.
We ordered the seafood platter as a starter, duck leg confit, US kurobuta, olive pizza for our main courses, and for dessert - warm chocolate cake with ice cream and tiramisu.
Although we had a good time chatting and the food was relatively good. It was not spectacular enough for us to want to come back and try every single dish on the menu.seafood platter - goodduck leg confit - averageUS Kurobuta - below averageOlive Pizza - averagetiramisuwarm chocolate cake

Labrador Park

Labrador Park is a 16.8 ha reserve situated along Labrador Villa Road off Pasir Panjang Road, and is well-known for its WWII relics and bunkers, as it stood as the bastion on Singapore's Southern coast in the British defence against the Japanese invaders.
There is a history trail for visitors to learn about the historical importance of Labrador Park. It is also known as a good fishing spot, and local anglers may be found along the jetties especially during weekends.
The park overlooks the sea, and visitors can enjoy the park and the beach at the same time. There is also a large variety of flora and fauna that can be found both within Labrador Park and the rocky beach below. Within the park are the Olive Ristorante@Labrador, Villa Raintree Spa and Resort and Villa Seafood Galleria.

Labrador Jetty Nature reserves in SingaporeAbout 5 per cent of the land here, or 3,350ha, has been set aside as nature reserves, with four such protected areas:
- The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

- The Central Catchment Nature Reserve
- The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
- The Labrador Nature Reserve

Note: There are more tree species in a single hectare than in the entire North American continent in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, The reserve is 164ha and includes Singapore's highest hill, which stands at 163.63m.

Tong Heng Confectionery

Located at No. 283 to 285 South Bridge Road is Tong Heng Confectionery, which has been around since the 1920. The shop is known for their long history of baking Chinese pastries.
Tong Heng is especially famed for their Cantonese egg tarts. Devoted fans regularly visit this flagship store in Chinatown to buy these distinctive diamond-shaped tarts. They also have another version with coconut.
Besides egg tarts, Tong Heng also sells other kinds of Chinese pastries such as curry puffs, lotus paste buns, char siew sou, and lǎo pó bǐng (老婆餅) "sweetheart cake".

People's Park Food Center

People's Park Food Centre is pretty big, the place has many stalls and is hive of activity, but there are so few really must try stalls to eat at.
There is the famous $3 Yong Tau Foo, but be prepared to queue of at least 30 people long.
Another must try is Toh Kee for its roast meats and Cantonses steamed soups. I bought home half a duck at $16 and I quite like the braised soy beans that accompany the duck. It was good but I still prefer my Hong Kong style roast duck.

Another stall to try is the Loh Mei Specialist. Loh Mei, otherwise known as Lo Kai Yik (or stewed chicken wings in Cantonese), was once common fare in Singapore. Now, Loh Mei Specialist may be the only one that offers this rare delicacy in Singapore.
What is Loh Mei? It is a dish that uses fermented bean curd, specially imported from Shanghai. Besides adding flavour, the fermented bean curd gives the dish an interesting coat of red. The dish consist of chicken wings, cuttlefish, kang kong, pig's skin, stomach and intestines. I make this dish at home but do not add pork to it so that Lilik can eat it. It still goes down well with the family.

Maxwell Road Market

Maxwell Road Market began in the 1950s as a wet market for the Chinatown area. In the 1980s, the site was changed into a temporary hawker centre to house the hawkers from China Square along China Street. The temporary structure remained for more than a decade and it was designed such that stalls shared a communal washing area which was located in the major thoroughfare where patrons consumed their food at fixed tables.
As you eat, you could see dirty dishes piling up and hawkers washing their plates at the washing area with clogged and smelly drains.
Despite being notorious for its unhygienic conditions, it remained a popular food centre as it was home to many popular traditional Chinese delicacies such as chicken rice, fuzhou oyster cakes,ham chim peng, rickshaw noodles, turtle soup and pig's brain soup.
The hawker center was closed in March 2000 for renovations and reopened in May 2001, after much delay and at a cost of $3.2 million.
Some of the other stalls to look out for are Guan Dong Wanton Mee, stall 99, hokkien ngor hiang -Hup Kee Wu Siang Guan Chang, stall 97, Big Scissors Curry Rice, stall 43, Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake, stall 22, Pan Cake, stall 26 and the self-fry hum chim peng stall 28, was not open yet, it opens from 1pm to 8pm.
These are some the famous stalls at the food center. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, stall 10Xing Xing Tapioca Cake, stall 31Zhen Zhen Porridge, stall 54Jin Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon, stall 77

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Snootiest Fruit Shop

This is one of two popular fruit shops at People's Park and boy do the people at the shop have an attitude. Arguably they do have a very good selection of fresh fruits and the fruits were all unblemished.
What shocked me was the rudeness of the people at the shop. I got shoved because I was photographing the fruits on display and I wasn't even in the way. I would have bought some fruits too if only they were a little nicer towards me.
Hold on to your seats now, here come the prices of some of the fruits - custard apple, $15 a kilo and US Cherries, $20 a kilo. Ouch!!!! I didn't see anyone buying these expensive fruits though.

Chew Kee Soy Sauce Chicken

This stall has been around for a long time and it is very busy during lunch time and it has a history.
There was a family operated coffee shop along Upper Cross Street - one sibling sold soy sauce chicken rice and the other sold noodles. The family fell out and each sibling decided to go their separate ways. The sister won the tender to the original shop and stayed put. Brother rented a store a few shop houses down the street. Hence, there are now two soy sauce chicken stalls along Upper Cross Street.
We ate at the sister's stall today, and we ordered half a chicken and three plates of plain noodles. The shop was very bush and we had to wait some twenty minutes for our order to be served.
We were either extremely hungry or gluttons as there was nothing left of the chicken or noodles.

Fear Factor - Traditional Chinese Medicine Way

We wondered into Teck Soon Medical Hall and I came away with many interesting photos of dried animal parts, sea creatures and plant life that is quite interesting. I've eaten some of the things but the rest are beyond me.
I can't tell you much about the medicinal value so I will let the photos do the talking.
dried sanddollarsdried seawormsdried sea horsescommon sea horsesabalonedried slugssharks' bonesdried geckossnake winedried animal glandsginseng rootdeer tendonscrocodile meatlingzhi

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

Opening this evening, ahead of Vesak day, is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. The temple and museum is on Sago Street and is a living cultural monument in the heart of Chinatown housing the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic in a magnificent Relic Stupa composed of 420kg of gold donated by devotees.The temple will also house over 10,000 Buddha statues, including a six-metre tall Maitreya Buddha, as well as the Tripitaka, a collection of Buddhist scriptures.
The Temple is dedicated to Maitreya Buddha. Entering the breathtaking 27 feet high main hall of the temple, visitors can see the beautifully carved wooden Maitreya Buddha image. From the grandeur and fine detail seen in this hall alone, visitors can appreciate the work of dedicated craftsmen who contributed their skills to the building of this Temple. The architecture, interiors and statuary, are inspired by the Tang Dynasty, an era where Buddhism flourished in China in a golden age of artistic and cultural vibrancy.
There will be another trip to visit the museum.

Chinatown - Peoples' Park Area

Sometimes, you have to be a tourist in your own country and go on a walkabout. Three kakis (friends) did just that today in the Chinatown area.
Chinatown can be divided into four main districts - Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh - each with its own distinctive flavour. The heart of activity is in the Trengganu/Smith Streets area.
Chinatown’s local name - Niu Che Shui (Bullock Cart Water) arose from the fact each household at that time had to collect fresh water from the wells in Ann Siang Hill and Spring Street, using bullock-drawn carts.
We started out at the Maxwell Road Food Center where we were suppose to have lunch but the queues were long at the stalls we wanted to eat at.
So it we made a decision to walk over to Chew Kee on Upper Cross Street for soy sauce chicken and noodles for lunch and then on to People's Park to shop.
The route we took, took us along South Bridge Road towards Upper Cross Street and we passed a number of very interesting shops along the way especially in the traditional Chinese medicine area.