Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Hotels in Orchard Road are known to be on the pricy side with their 4-5 stars and prime location. For the young and savvy travelers who are looking to be in the midst of all the action, Hotel Jen is actually a pretty good option. I recently checked out the transformed Traders Hotel, now known as Hotel Jen Tanglin, and stayed in their Club Room with all day Club access. 
I absolutely dig the new contemporary look and feel of the hotel. It's bright and cheery, with thoughtful touches such as: free WiFi, USB charger outlets, high pressure walk-in showers, and king-sized floating beds with 300-thread count linen. My room also had the perfect view of the pool and the surrounding greenery.  
I'm always a snack away from the Club Lounge, which is conveniently located a few doors away from our room on the 17th floor. 
It has a great view to boot as well. Perfect for lounging or catching up on some work over coffee.
One could enjoy a smaller selection of breakfast items (or head to the buffet breakfast at J65); all day snacks and drinks, evening cocktails with canapés, and even supper if you wish (we had some post drinks cup noodles at 1am)!
The breakfast spread.
Evening cocktails hour with cocktails, wine, cheese, and hot canapés. It is possible to fill yourself up if you wish!   
We checked out the Sunday Champagne Brunch at J65 separately. At $128 nett, it's one of the most affordable champagne brunch serving free flow of Perrier-Jouët champagne, beers, wines, juices and drinks. Well even if not for the food, the champagne alone would be worth the tag. 
The food selection is quite small, with only 1 live station that does Asian noodles. What I enjoyed was the selection of healthy and tasty salads and greens (great for vegetarians), decent selection of cold seafood, and a variety of meats and cold cuts. Skip desserts and stick with the bubbly as the calories are better spent on the latter. 
Or if you must, pop over to Jen’s Kitchen On-the-Go – the lobby café and snack bar which offers locally roasted coffee and sweet concoctions like this Cake Shake that I had as a birthday cake.
What I also love about Hotel Jen Tanglin is its location. Botanical Gardens is the highlight for me. A run to and around the lush park, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, will clock you 6km. Can't ask for a better way to stay active on your travels! The 24h gym, though small-ish, is sufficiently equipped for your strength and conditioning training. A 30m long outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam and treatments rooms and pool bar are available on site as well.
If you are looking for some interesting spots/experiences in the city, check out the Heart Map, an interactive crowdsourced map that provides recommendations to any profile of international travelers. Otherwise, Orchard Road is a 10mins walk/ quick shuttle ride away. 
Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore is currently having an introductory offer of S$299/night per night until February 2016, for their Club Room which includes all Club facilities. A ‘Stay up to date offer’ from S$165/night for the other rooms, includes buffet breakfast in the new J65 restaurant. Do also check out their current CNY promotion. 
1A Cuscaden Road Singapore 249716

Ushering the Lunar New Year at Yan Ting, St. Regis Singapore. Yan Ting remains as one of my favorite Chinese/Cantonese fine dining restaurants in Singapore and  Executive Chef Tony Wun with his Lunar New Year menu.
I enjoyed the fruity and refreshing Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon and Abalone ($68/$98). There's a mix of marinated papaya, crunchy honeydew, juicy snow pear, peach, pomelo, and also dried orange peel for that lingering fragrance. This is available for takeaway!
You may want to add more shredded vegetables to this if more crunch is required. 
Not into the super luxurious Pun Choy (with 14 decadent ingredients) but still want something braised? Go for the Buddha Jumps Over the Wall ($128/pax or $428 for 6) then. This typical soup delicacy has been transformed into a braised dish that features abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, oysters and dried scallops.
We're less than 1 month to the Lunar New Year! Here's presenting the decadent and indulgent dishes by Man Fu Yuan! Starting 18 Jan till 22 Feb, MFY has all your CNY needs covered.
The Yellowtail Yusheng with Monkey Head Mushrooms, Prosperity Flakes and Peach Dressing ($118 large size) is symbolic of the year of the Monkey. I didn't think the peach dressing came through to cut the oiliness of the gold leaf cornflakes. I found myself craving for some acidity in this one.
The Steamed Alaskan King Crab in Chinese red wine with rich chicken oil was certainly a highlight dish of the night. Such sweet sweetness from the meat and umami from the creamy broth. Chef Eric happily tossed in plenty of crispy pork lard for an added crunch and my dining partners were so hooked they had seconds and thirds of the crackling.
JAAN is the the El Bulli of Singapore, recognised for handpicking and grooming global culinary stars, many of them carved out their careers here, and then left for greater things that they call their own. Now we have Chef Kirk Westaway, who worked alongside Julien Royer for years, now taking over the reins at JAAN. Well.. while you can still taste some of the Julien specials, you can be sure that Kirk is going to ease you into his brand of JAAN. 
To say Kirk Westaway is a storyteller is an understatement. He spins fairytales. His attention to details, the subtlety and balance in his pretty dishes, the overall ebb and flow, ups and downs, and then that happily ever after that ended on the perfect note.. Needless to say, i was won over dish after dish during my 4 hour long 10 course dinner. Julien may be the punchy one, but you'll never get sick of Kirk and you'd want more of his dishes.
The first serving of Wagyu beef tartare, with a clever "Fish & Chips" (done a la French fine dining), a foie gras and truffle macaron (salty, creamy, sweet and chewy), and an olive cracker with olive purée and cheddar cheese (superbly crumbly). You know this Briton has a sense of humor with this French rendition of English food.
Sunday Champagne Brunch is no new concept but it's all about providing that quality experience to the diners. While Hilton Singapore may not have the most extensive spread, they make up for it in terms of the cosy ambience and quality selections in some of their a la minute sections. 
Highlights of the new buffet spread include live seafood, meat carving and grill stocked with fresh imported ocean catches, premium Australian cuts and gourmet delicatessen from Europe.
I typically start with the cured meats and cheeses and i was very happy at the Smorgasbord Station, which featured thinly-sliced à la minute charcuterie of imported whole leg Iberico ham, Lomo Ham and Saucisson sec cured meat.
I went absolutely crazy with the bleu cheeses! There are more than 20 types of cheeses specially flown in from Italy, France and Switzerland. Best bleu spread ever.
At the live Seafood Station, you get to taste sashimi and half shell scallops from Australia, Canadian-Maine Lobsters, yabbies (a type of crayfish) from Spain and shucked oysters from Australia, Canada and France. I skipped this section as they didn't smell too appealing. 
I thought the hot food fared better. With eight cooking stations, there is plenty to pick from. A la minute specialty dishes such as pan-fried foie gras with apple and passion fruit (really enjoyed the tartness but the foie gras was overcooked), fresh homemade Italian maccheroni pasta with juicy Maine lobster meat and yabbies...
And HELLO homemade Scotch egg with black truffle hollandaise! Even though some of my dining partners felt that the sausage crust was a tad salty, i thought it was perfect with the yolk (it's overcooked and they certainly could do better than that). The amount of sodium is perfectly acceptable if you think of it as a sausage #YOLO.
Hearty, meaty offerings include Australian grain-fed prime rib, honey mustard-glazed pork rack and slow-grilled herb-roasted baby fowl. 
I enjoyed the meats from the open-flame charcoal grills. Cuts of wagyu flank steaks, lamb chops and Rangers Valley grain-fed beef tenderloins are sizzled over white-hot charcoal. Do not go expecting medium rare meats though, they all turn fairly medium-medium done. Don't skip the delicious sides of vegetables like roasted tomatoes on the vine, caramelized pumpkin, and asparagus gratin! 

I believe the Asian Station could be skipped. Oh but don't miss the liu sha bao! I was surprised at how good it was. That was truly a hidden gem in the dim sum corner. 
Dessert is a highlight at Hilton Singapore. 
With over 30 sweet treats like the luscious caramel hazelnut chocolate fountain -tears of joy-, cakes, mousse, tarts, pralines and macarons... it's pure heaven for the sheer amount of variety. 
The Hilton Singapore Sunday Champagne Brunch is available every Sunday from noon to 3pm, only at Opus Restaurant, located on the ground level. 

Hilton Singapore
581 Orchard Rd Singapore 238883
Sunday Champagne Brunch: 12 - 3pm
Tel: +65 6730 3390
Adult: $88 (non-alcoholic)/$108/$138 (free flow of Louis Roederer champagne, selected white & red wines and beer)
Child: $39 (aged 5 to 12 years old)
When i visited Koh Samui last yeari was in a mess. Like literally. I was sick, tired, and was in a terrible shape (too much eating in NYC). I knew i had to get away from the horrible haze in Singapore (no thanks to Indonesia), even if it was for a short bit. So i found myself a yoga retreat just 2h away from home, packed my bags and mats and an entire wardrobe of lululemon and liquido yoga gear and left. Samahita Retreat and Vikasa Yoga were my top choices and they are great, both with a strong emphasis on yoga, wellness, and clean eating (plus more).
Samahita Retreat is a quiet spot on Laem Sor beach and they are exactly what they described themselves to be- a wellness resort where someone traveling alone can meet like-minded yogis (yogis and foodies are the best kind of people).
I love the openness of the space, be it airy indoor shalas with high ceilings, or the huge window panes that allow the sea breeze in. It would be lovely to practise on the beach shala but it was under renovation then (bummer). That said, the smaller beach cabana was available during morning classes. 
It is also here at Samahita Retreat that i went deeper into my Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga has got to be the most punishing practice ever (IMO). I had some led classes in Singapore (until my teacher gave up on teaching us ho ho) and have been hopeless with memorizing the sequence (the primary series alone could take up to 2 hours to complete). But within 3 days of the Mysore practice, i committed the sequence to memory (ok i still mix it up sometimes). You'll see progress in less than a week really.

Beginners do not have to worry about not knowing yoga or ashtanga. Led classes (guided class) are conducted at the same time as the Mysore class (self practice with a teacher to correct students individually). I'm really grateful for the practice, and the positive vibes from my fellow yogis. There's no judgment, no competition, only kind words #blessed.
Let me bring you through a typical day at Samahita Retreat on their all inclusive Yoga Daily program, which includes all yoga classes, use of facilities, and 2 meals a day.
7am: Light breakfast is served. I'd grab some hill tribe organic coffee to perk myself up before Breathwork/Mysore. The pranayama class helps to wake you up gently but I like to shock my system. While the LED class begins on time, the Mysore practice is free and easy and you could join anytime.  
10am - 1pm: Brunch buffet. During low season, residents pick 2 - 3 cooked dishes with some toast, fruits, juices, and oatmeal served buffet style. The menu changes daily so you get a variety of dishes. Vegetables is the mainstay here but you get 1 fish option for each meal.  Honestly I did not miss having meat at all because the food is really damn good. I would be a vegetarian if i can get food like this every day. It's all about healthy and nourishing food. Eating clean never felt so satisfying really. 
Here are some of my favorites from brunch- Cinnamon whole wheat pancakes/ French toast/ Oatmeal Porridge (they alternate between a bread/porridge for brunch). And definitely PEANUT BUTTER and BERRIES JAM with the lovely carb or yogurt. Oh and that spinach cheese crepes were amazing too! 
There are also heartier options for brunch which includes carbs dishes, stir fried veg and fish etc.
The Tom Yum fried fish and soup were soooo goooood! So was the stir-fried pumpkin/zucchini with egg!
Free and Easy Afternoons: I would recommend a swim in the salt water chlorinated pool or in the sea which is steps away. You can also take the stand up paddle board out anytime as well (it's complimentary) and you can really work on balancing in your yoga poses, or working on your upper body strength, or just lie on it and get a tan! 
Or go for one of the massages at the Spa. I had the Touch of Ayurveda and opted for a strong deep tissue therapeutic massage to go with the Ayuvedic oil. It was superbly good in relieving the tenion on my upper body from Ashtanga practice.
Feeling peckish? The kitchen is open all day long so you can get fuller meals like Thai or Western food, healthy detox juices, and raw snacks. I love their Goji Bliss ball and the Cashew Nut cup. Fresh Thai coconuts are also available and they are just so perfect for an afternoon by the beach.
5 - 6pm: Restorative Yoga Class. This is typically a yin yoga class to balance the yang energy from the Ashtanga practice. I was surprised that i actually liked it because it's so relaxing and easy. It really does help with easing some tensions from all that strain from the chaturangas and jumping. 

Sign up for the complimentary use of the Herbal Steam room before 5pm and it'll be ready for use from 6 - 8pm. If you're not that hungry, by 6pm, i'd say get yourself hot and steamy, then go into the pool for a bit, and repeat. It's really good for blood circulation. There will be enough time for dinner after that.
6 - 8pm: Dinner Buffet is served during this time. Again, it's ala carte choice during low season. My favorites are the Yellow curry (with sweet potato and potato) and roti, stir fried veggies are always yummy, Pad Thai, Spaghetti with rocket (black pepper style with olives and feta!!). The cooking is done Thai style by the way. You're in Thailand afterall. Oh and i inhale their Thai zucchinis all the time. I really look forward to the meal times. You can always go light with the steamed veg and salad options so it's really all up to you. You'll also get 1 small portion of dessert each night (it's rationed)!
7.30pm: Optional daily night activities. Meditation classes offered on Sun, Tues, and Thu. I avoided it because I'm terrible at meditation but the shala is really peaceful and beautiful at night.
If you're serious about detox, Samahita Retreat also offers several personalized and guided Detox, Healthy Weight and De-Stress programs. They do colon hydrotherapy and fasting etc. as well. Be rest assured that you'd be well supported by the Samahita team. 
Samahita Retreat is also home to Centered Yoga, which offers the 200h and 500h Yoga Alliance certifcation at the 200h and 500h. They get really good guest teachers over there and i'll definitely be checking one of those out. Kino is probably going in 2016!!
Accommodation wise, the rooms are spacious and clean and there is WIFI. There's no TV but i guess you can always watch something on your gadget. I used their laundry service and it was efficient and very affordable (THB120/kg). 
Some downsides. It can be fairly noisy sometimes with the human chatter as the indoors shala is just across the kitchen During the morning session, you get the whole brunch preparation going on and in the evenings, it'd be the dinner prep. So.. Anyway, i guess it'd be better at the beach shala once it's ready again since it's slightly farther from the chit chat. 
I loved Samahita Retreat and I would not mind staying here again for an extended Ashtanga practice. Till the next time!

Thailand 55/20-24 Moo 4, T. Namuang, Suratthani,, Thailand