Ms Skinny Fat.

Skinny.Fat. Sophisticated.Fun. Adventurous.Grounded. Material.Zen.

I'm a Caffeine Addict

Sipping on my 4th cuppa at Seven Seeds. Melbourne, Australia.

Breakfast Any Time of the Day

Perfectly cooked Sous Vide Eggs Benedict. Skyve Wine Bistro, Singapore.

A weakness for sweet things

My love for cupcakes. It all began at L'uisine. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Itadakimasu

Colours of Autumn: Omakase Hidden Find at Giro Giro Hitoshina. Kyoto, Japan.

Wanderlust

The World is my Oyster. Home is where my heart belongs.

Frozen in Time

Shooting old school muscles on our off-the-beaten-path trip. La Habana, Cuba.

Riding into the Purple Sunset.

Decadent villa getaway complete with black golden sand. Alila Villas Soori, Bali, Indonesia.

Bagism is my religion

Latest addition to my bag family- The Proenza Schouler PS11 Mini Classic in Textured Brown. 2013.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kurokawa Onsen Travel, Japan

It's hot spring weather and there's no better place than the pretty Kurokawa Onsen to soak away the burdens and load accumulated in the year. This is one of Japan's most attractive hot spring towns, and i knew exactly why when i set my eyes on it. Despite it being a 'resort' town, there was none of those touristy and gimmicky vibe or huge resort and tour group presence. Instead, there was a peaceful calm in this traditional town where local tourists roam about in their yukata (light Japanese cotton robe) and wooden clogs.

Getting there
Buses run from Yufuin and it was a short 1 hour ride. Kurokawa Onsen is also connected to Mt Aso and Kumamoto Take the Odan Bus (Direction Beppu towards Kumamoto). Click here for the timetable.

DO
As the name suggests, Kurokawa Onsen is best known for natural outdoor hot springs called rotenburo. The thing to do is to grab a nyuto tegata (hot spring pass), put on your yukata, and go onsen hopping. The hot spring pass costs 1200 yen and gives you access to 3 hot springs (valid for 6 mths). You could pick it up at your ryokan or at the Kurokawa Spa Hotel Association Information Center. More on my picks soon.

The little town could be explored in your Japanese slippers. Enjoy the natural forested landscape complete with little wooden houses, stone stairs and flowing river.

EAT
The heart of the town is Igozaka, a small street with shops selling local produce and cafes. We bought some delicious yuzu honey from a honey specialty store. Dora Dora sells fresh Japanese Dorayaki (red bean pancakes), some with special fillings e.g. Aso Oguni Jersey cream, and dekopon (locally grown orange). 
We simply had to get some sweets. Desserts for lunch! S' parfait and my mochi with soy bean powder. We don't quite know the name of the store but look out for the shop front!
Head down to the shrine for more sweets at Patisserie Roku. They do a yummy cream puff over there.

SLEEP
There are many ryokans in Kurokawa Onsen and each comes with their own hot spring baths. A ryokan stay with half board option is a must. We stayed at Wakaba Ryokan and paid 31500Y for 2 pax per night (breakfast and kaiseki dinner included). Our ryokan was alright in my opinion but not super fantastic. The baths are so so only.

My first option was Ryokan Sanga, which comes highly recommended, but as usual we booked too late.  Another ryokan that i liked is Ikoi Ryokan, which is just beside Wakaba. Both ryokans are a stairway down from the busstop which makes them really convenient. Ikoi has some really fantastic onsen baths which we visited using our onsen pass. Love!

My tip for Kurokawa Onsen is to head there early, start onsen hopping and then spend the night in the lovely town. We even took a short run around the place and saw some big hotels (don't stay there please). It's a good way to break up the traveling from Yufuin to Mount Aso if you're planning to head there.

Can't wait for my upcoming onsen trip to Nagano this year end! What's your favorite onsen spot in Japan?

XOXO
Travelerintransit

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pantler, Japanese Dessert Cafe

There has been a slew of Japanese dessert cafes and bakeries opening in Singapore and one of the latest is Pantler, a little outfit in the Tanjong Pagar/ Telok Ayer area. Opened by young (and cute) baker Matthias Phua and helmed by Chef Tomoharu Morita (both previously from Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Joel Robuchon Singapore), Pantler features high quality baked goods using ingredients from Japan and France.

The sweets selection was well balanced between pastries and cakes.
Expect croissants, tarts and danishes. Coffee is from Dutch Colony ($3.50 for Espresso, $5.80 for Café latte and Cappuccino). 
The Pithivier ($7.50) filled with almond frangipane was a nice layered pastry with a generous filling. The Frangipane wasn't too sweet which was great but I thought it could have more crunch and bite to it.
Something refreshing (or bitter) would be the Ruby Tart

Pound cakes are $22 each but also available in slices. The Madeleines are a whopping $3.50 each (are you for real)! 
The Choux bun ($5.50) is only meant for eating in. The thick vanilla perfumed cream is only piped in when ordered to ensure the crispiness of the Choux pastry.

Everyone loved the flavor of this but only the girls are willing to pay $5.50 for this. I think the boys will be happy with the regular Beard Papa. That said, the cream was much better in terms of flavor and quality though!
The Yatsura ($8.50) was my other favorite. The intense dark chocolate will hit you squarely on your first bite but it mellows out. And i loved that cunchy hazelnut feuilletine.
The Pantler cheesecake ($6.80) was similar to the regular light Japanese cheesecake in terms of texture but you could still taste the distinct sharpness of the cheese. That said i'm not a fan of this one. 

The other cheese option is the Ricotta Cheese Tart ($8.50) which had a light moussy filling. The sharp contrast between that airy ricotta and that crisp short crust tart threw the balance of the dessert off. A thinner crust would have made the dish a perfect alternative to the cheesecake. 
Of the lot, I thought the Pantler roll cake ($4.80) fared the worst because it was too sweet. The cake however was delightful if you eat it without the cream or icing. It's typically Japanese in terms of the texture but with the french butter flavor once again. If you have eaten those Hokkaido cakes, you'd know what I mean.

In all, Pantler is not a bad spot to satisfy your post lunch sweets craving. I'd certainly pack and go if i'm in the area but make sure you eat that choux bun on the spot.

Pantler
198 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068637
Weekdays: 8.30am - 5.30pm
Sat: 10.30am - 5.30pm

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jing Hua Restaurant

Jing Hua, established in 1989, started from its humble beginnings at Qun Zhong Eating House, a restored shophouse at Neil Road. I did not know about this famous Xiao long bao and dumpling stall until they opened their third outlet at Palais Renaissance but I heard that the original outlet is super famous and there would be snaking queues especially at meal times. Well well town is more accessible for me and I found Jing Hua to be a good alternative to the crowded and noisy Din Tai Fung.

The Orchard outlet departs a little from the 小吃店 style of the other outlets. The ambience is certainly more posh and retro-chic (it reminded me of the mod 茶餐厅 decor of a particular Starbucks in HK). Premium beverages e.g. Pu'er tea, are offered here along with spirits. Pick from the Chinese Shao Hsing wine, Baijiu ,and Japanese whisky, and shochu. If you're thinking why Japanese drinks? Well fried dumplings are like gyoza and dumplings are great bar bites.
So let's start with my picks. Do not miss the Little Juicy Steamed Meat Dumplings (小笼汤包) ($5/4pcs, $8.80/8pcs). The first thing I noticed was the delicate skin. It was thin, smooth and slightly chewy. The texture resembled a thinly rolled out chinese kueh without the stickiness. The skin is made from a special recipe and used in most of their flour products. I cannot stop raving about that texture! The lightly marinated pork meat wasn't too minced (slightly coarser than din tai fung) and hence the sweetness of the pork does come through.  
If I were to grab a quick bite, I'd certainly go for the Boiled Mixed Seafood and Pork Dumplings (三鲜饺子) ($5/4pcs, $9/10pcs) or the Pan Fried Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings (三鲜锅贴) ($6.50/6pcs, $9.50/10pcs).
I can't decide which I prefer. The boiled ones were fat and juicy, and they make for a delicious and healthy snack. The fried ones maintained the juiciness of the fragrant meat filling and the bonus was the added crunch. What's great was the shell maintained that light chewiness on the interior. These little crispy poppers were quite irresistible.
The Noodles with Minced Pork & Soya Bean Sauce (炸酱面) ($6.80) didn't wow me. It wasn't the fault of the yummy noodles (made from the same dough), the downfall was the sauce. Perhaps I'm accustomed to the rich soy bean sauce that comes with the typical 炸酱面 so this was kinda bland for me. More sauce was needed to coat the noodles as well. I'll suggest you add some of that soy bean chili paste (it was good with the noodles and gyoza) to boost the flavors.
The problem with many dumpling stores is that the flavors get boring after a bit due to the usage of the same filling. Even though the seafood, minced pork, and chives paste was used in several items, including the Chinese Pizza (三鲜盒子) ($10.80), the differing textures arising from the methods of preparation made each dish different. That said, the chinese pizza didn't do so well as the puff pastry was a little thick and dry (think epok epok skin) and hence I left it mostly untouched. The meat to pastry ratio could also be worked on (too little meat, too much dough). 
The Sweet Osmanthus Flower Rice Ball Soup (桂花汤圆) ($4) was a lovely way to end our meal. I loved that fragrance of Osmanthus in the soup! The dish may look bland with the white mochi balls and clear soup but it was anything but simple. The glutinous rice balls were filled with peanuts, red bean paste, lotus and walnut paste, and black sesame. Most pastes were smooth (loved the lotus walnut) with the exception of the powdery sesame.
Crispy Red Bean Pancake (豆沙锅饼) ($10.50) was alright. Made from glutinous rice flour, the texture was slightly airy, with a keropok texture. The inner layer still maintained the mochi-like chewiness. I thought the texture of the pastry paired nicely with the slightly coarse red bean paste. 
I usually don't have steamed sweet buns for desserts but the Green Tea Red Bean Steamed Dumplings ( 绿茶豆沙小笼包) ($4.50/4pcs) sounded too enticing. Great skin again and the red bean paste was fine, smooth and a little more fluid than the regular baos. The green tea flavor could be enhanced though. 
In all, Jing Hua Restaurant is a great spot to grab a quick bite in town. It may be slightly off the Orchard Road belt but you would get away from the madness. I'll pick this over Din Tai Fung if i have a dumplings craving.

Jing Hua Restaurant
Original Chinatown Shophouse
21 Neil Road, Singapore 088814

Rochor Road
159 Rochor Road, Singapore 188434

Orchard Palais Renaissance
390 Orchard Road, B1-04/05 Singapore 238871 
Tel: +65

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pan Pacific Singapore Festive Dining 2014

Festive season is so bad for the waistline so if you have to put on weight, then you better make sure it's worth it! Here's something that's worth your calories. Pan Pacific Singapore celebrates All Things Nice with their traditional Christmas favorites at the seven live food theatres at Edge, whimsical Imaginary Friends Afternoon Tea and the yummy festive takeaways at Pacific Market Place.

The massive spread at Edge cannot be missed. The month of December offers a mouthwatering array of Christmas delights. You don't even need to think about individual guest's preferences because there's something for everyone. Creamy pumpkin soup with cream cheese and chestnuts and a lovely sundried tomatoes foccacia, fresh seafood, amazing spread of cold cuts, Honey and Pineapple-glazed Gammon Ham, Crispy Spice Pork Knuckle (a little dry for me), and sweet treats including Aniseed Ginger Vanilla Cheese Log Cake. Yums! 

For New Year, there's Whole Roast Beef Tomahawk, Iberico Crispy Roast Pork, Omi Wagyu, Alaskan King Crab, Boston Lobster and more. Check out the Edge webpage for more details! Do not miss out on the Champagne meals with free flow  with unlimited Veuve Clicquot Champagne, alone with selected red and white wines, cocktails, beers, fresh juices and soft drinks (from $150). The regular Festive Lunch and Dinner are priced from $58. 
For something more dainty, there's the new Imaginary Friends Afternoon Tea inspired by the characters from home-grown author Melanie Lee’s book Imaginary Friends. Octopus Mirin Quiche with Bonito Flakes, and Durian Puff with Spiked Meringue? This is certainly a twist on the typical tea. Book your tea with Pacific Market Place daily from 3-5 pm. 
Home celebrations are made easy with the festive takeaways at Pacific Market Place. Do not expect yours truly to be roasting any turkeys. Instead, i'll recommend the Roasted Turkey with Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing (4.5kg, $148). The big bird was surprisingly flavorful and sufficiently tender. And that stuffing had me going back for thirds! 
Other traditional roasts includes the Honey-glazed Ham with Granny Smith Apple and Raisin Chutney (LOVE!) (2kg $128). I love the idea of carving my own ham though i've not tried doing it myself before. For 2014, there also a Limited Edition Cinnamon-glazed Gammon Ham with
Persimmon Chutney (2kg $158). Their Brandy Fruit cake is also wickedly alcoholic. hic. Check it out on pacificmarketplace.sg.

Time to get your Christmas meal shopping done!

Pan Pacific Singapore 
7 Raffles Boulevard Singapore 039595
Tel: +65 6336 8111

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Silkcut Salon Moist Care Treatment

Festive season calls for a color update! I got a little sick of my ash hair which was looking kinda washed out. Ash is a wonderful cool color but it does turn yellow rather easily and one would look ashen and sallow and your hair may look dry as well. After a long discussion with the wonderful ladies at Silkcut Salon, Wendy and Geri finally decided on giving me some vibrant but healthy colors.
And I went back to being a red head! Just look at how vibrant the dye is.
Lots of work going on right there. Being pampered like a princess as always.
My head was on fire with that fiery engine red dye. What's life without some fun colors right?
If you're wondering why the top was bunned up, well that's because it was gonna be purple on top! Of course it wouldn't take that long for the girls to come up with just plain old boring red. ;)
And as usual, hair care is a must following any dye job and Wendy recommended the Moistcare hair treatment. This treatment from Japan contains collagen and keratin to hydrate and strength the hair. The result? Shiny, glossy and super smooth and silky hair, just like in a shampoo ad. It was so satin-like and i cannot even bun my hair up because my hair tie kept slipping off! 
I love how Geri and Wendy did my hair with the darker purple top and the fire engine red under. Put it down for a slightly serious look at work and up for more fun the rest of the time. I already know that red  is a great complement to my skin tone and even Geri, who is extremely fond of cool colors, had to agree that this warm (more like hot) color is perfect for me. ;)
The purple has faded a bit and it looking a bit more strawberry on the top, but it still holds nicely at the ends. Be careful when you do reds because it will keep bleeding till it's completely gone so no white tops unless your hair is completely dry.
Thank you Silkcut Salon for the stellar hair work as usual. My friends have been raving about that insane hair color and molesting the smooth locks as well. Quote me for 10% off all chemical treatment when you make your appointment with Silkcut Salon. I highly recommend the Moistcare hair treatment! It's only $115 for my hair length (super cheap!) and definitely something that i'll keep going back for.

So it's bright hair, bright skin (I use Derma-Rx products) and a brighter smile (thanks to Invisalign). On a side note, my Invisalign treatment has ended and I'm just waiting to do my refinement. Whee!

Time to get yourself ready for the hols! What's your prep strategy this holiday?

Silkcut Salon
22 Havelock Road #01-693, Singapore 160022
Tel: +65 6275 6108
Weekdays: 11am - 8pm
Weekends and PH: 11am - 7pm

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Provision Shop

Neighborhood cafes are a hit with the cafe hopping Singapore these days and here's another quarter for you to explore- Everton Park. This seemingly sleepy estate is now populated by hipster cafes and bakeries and even a lifestyle shop! My CSI experience led me to The Provision Shop, the most promising cafe of the lot (the others were practically empty on a weekday) for a brunch date with Z.

To draw the office crowd in, The Provision Shop does a weekday set lunch at $15 nett and it includes a sandwich of the week, soup, and a long black.
Well i was picky about what sandwich i wanted so i didn't bother with that. You have to get the Reuben for sure. Let me start with the bread. It was AMAZEBALLS. Super springy, lightly chewy and incredibly buttery brioche. I could tell its awesomeness from the slightly layered bread crust, which i left none behind. The corned beef  was more like thinly sliced pastrami instead of the lousy mashed up canned rations. The garlic mayo/aioli gave the salty meat that right amount of punch.

What's different about this Reuben sandwich is the asian flavored sauerkraut which tasted a little like chinese preserved salted vegetables or mui choy. That sesame oil coleslaw on the side gave this dish a fusion edge over the regular versions on the market.

Other savories to order are The Belinda's Perogis ($6), a traditional hot polish dumpling filled with mashed potatoes and ricotta cheese, topped with bacon, onions and sour cream. This was a favorite at the next table. They ordered 1, then another, and another... I reckon it must be pretty damn good.

I would also go for the Burrata and Homemade Walnut Pesto ($18) with warm bread (more of that brioche please). Well because there's cheese and who can say no to pesto right? Oh and definitely a side of prosciutto (+$3).

For something heartier, i would go for the Butternut squash and zucchini lasagna ($14) with sun dried tomato pesto, fresh pasta sheets and mozzarella. Well they had me at squash.

We wanted to go for something other than the usual Blueberry lemon cake ($6.50) so we had the Cherry Almond Cake ($6.50) instead. Z wasn't happy with how the cake sank in the middle (it means that it's no good apparently). I thought the cake was alright. It was certainly moist but not overly wet. There was a hint of the grainy almond but the nut was overpowered by the cherries (real ones).  
Coffee was really strong and that kept me going for my yoga classes. 
I will not bother introducing the other cafes which don't seem too promising. Shops that i'll head straight for in Everton Park includes: Audacious Cakery at Blk 2, Nylon Coffee Roasters at Blk 4, and The Redundant Shop at Blk 5.

The Provision Shop
Block 3 Everton Park #01-79
Tel: +65 6225 9931
Mon to Sat: 11.30am – 9pm
Sun: 9am – 6pm