The End Of An Era: #JanesWalkOWTC

BY STEFITH

Note: Hi guys! Sorry for the radio silence on the blog these past two months or so- Sarach and I have been really busy with school and work, so it’s been difficult to sit down and write, let alone find cool things to write about. But the semester is over, summer break is here, and the blog posts are gonna come back. We promise.

Call me a weirdo, but I enjoy walking. I’ve got no problems walking from Dhoby Ghaut to Orchard, and if the weather wasn’t so warm, I’d walk a lot further. So when Eisen and Jinhua, my friends from the SG Twitterverse, asked me if I wanted to join the team for their iteration of Jane’s Walk this year, I was game.

Explorer Buddy is ready to go!!

Before I go on, let me explain what Jane’s Walk is all about. Jane’s Walk is a global event, a series of citizen-led walking tours, held every year on the first weekend of May in honour of urbanist Jane Jacobs, who championed a community-based approach to city planning and building. You can read more about her and about the whole Jane’s Walk process over on the main website, and it’s an interesting way to celebrate the life of a fascinating woman.

Eisen and Jinhua did a tour on Toa Payoh last year, but this year they focused their energies on a part of Singapore that’s going to disappear very soon – the old Woodlands Town Centre. Woodlands, as most of us know, is probably the main heart of Northern Singapore, and it’s centre right now is the area around the Causeway Point mall. However, before that was developed, its main centre was near the actual Causeway, filled with everything you’d expect in a town centre – supermarkets, hawker centres, kindergartens, theatres.

While the old Woodlands Town Centre (henceforth referred to as OWTC because I’m lazy to type the whole thing out every time) fell into a state of vague neglect as a result of the town centre shifting away, it still remained a home to many people, filled with shops still peddling their wares, hawker centres filled with delicious food and people living in the old-style walk-up HDB flats that don’t exist anymore. However, it’s going to be demolished to become an extension of Woodlands Checkpoint – meaning that all this brightly coloured history will soon be nothing but photographs and memory.

Eisen, looking fabulous.

Jinhua, looking… mildly agitated?

As a result, Eisen and Jinhua took people on a tour of the old neighbourhood, telling us stories of what it used to be. We must have walked at least 5KM each day, our journey taking us from Marsiling MRT Station all the way into the heart of OWTC.

We learnt about the history of Singapore’s North-South Line (did you know that Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak and Choa Chu Kang stations used to be a separate branch line off Jurong East?), about an unsolved arson case that killed several people living in the shophouses, about the bizarre case of how one would clear Malaysian customs and ‘enter’ Malaysia at the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station but only ‘exit’ Singapore at Woodlands, and about the interesting circular architecture of OWTC. We learnt about how tables have turned – OWTC used to be a popular spot for Malaysians to buy items like bedsheets because it was cheaper in Singapore, and how some things never change, like Singaporeans being identified by shopkeepers by going around in slippers.  

Jinhua even had some vintage Coca-Cola glasses that he showed to the crowd, and I contributed an old VHS tape (of my K1 concert) to the tale of how the cinemas in OWTC struggled with the rise of VHS.

It was a very interesting experience, and I learnt a lot about a part of Woodlands that no one really thinks very much about. It’s a place rich in history, and lots of people have fond memories of the place. Many of the shopkeepers are holding out, refusing to move until they truly have no choice, and for some, the redevelopment of OWTC signals the end of businesses that have been around for decades. It certainly gave me a lot of food for thought – as Eisen asked the crowd, at the end of each walk: if a housing estate is redeveloped, and its residents moved and resettled elsewhere, did that housing estate really exist? It’s an interesting thing to mull over, and I’m afraid I don’t have an answer.

Eisen contemplating the future of OWTC

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Musings aside, I had so much fun at #JanesWalkOWTC! It may not have been the best idea to walk all three days (we had a walk a day from Fri-Sun and by Saturday night my legs were shaking at the dinner table), but I had a great time. Here’s to more walks in the future, and to learning new things about Singapore ;D

The team behind #JanesWalkOWTC!

P.S: I planned on doing a video about the Walk, but I’m having some trouble with my video-editing software so it’ll probably take me a while (: keep your eyes peeled.

Chizza Party: KFC’s Latest Offering

BY STEFITH

I love fried chicken with all my heart, and I adore pizza with every bit of my shrivelled-up soul. And KFC has fused these two wonderful things together into a new dish on their menu- THE CHIZZA.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard, and gotten slightly over-excited about, the Chizza (which by the way, is a portmanteau of Chicken + Pizza, much like the names ‘Sarach’ and ‘Stefith’). I first came across it when I was trawling the Internet:

At that point in time it certainly wasn’t available here, but it was available in Japan. And since my former-editor-who-is-now-a-content strategist (actually I have no clue what her current job title is) was going to Japan, I excitedly told her to try it because sharing is caring (but also because I was attempting to live vicariously through her).

But nothing beats being able to try it for myself, so when it rolled into town, I was SO HAPPY. I didn’t get a chance to eat it immediately when it first launched, and all the reviews online seemed to be pretty negative. Some people thought it was just quirky, others thought it was a total rip-off.

Despite these reviews, however, the allure of a fried chicken base topped with tomato sauce, ham, cheese and pineapple was too great to ignore. So I went for it.

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Verdict? A (borderline) yay! It’s nothing to shout about, but it’s still pretty darn tasty. It’s definitely a heart attack waiting to happen, but if you’re up for possibly clogging the arteries, this is a good place to start.

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The chicken certainly looked smaller (and uglier) than in the promotional materials, and was about as big as my hand. The cheese claims to be a mix of mozzarella and the cheese sauce you get on KFC’s cheese fries, but it tasted more like the latter.

Ham is ham, tomato pizza sauce is tomato pizza sauce, and pineapples are pineapples, though I picked most of mine off (I don’t like pineapple).

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Despite that, and the fact that it looks a little like it got a tad jostled en route from kitchen to tray, it was delicious. It was a bit greasy, but the meat was tender and succulent, with the crisp edge all fried chicken should have.

The pizza base is made from chicken breast, which tends to be quite dry, but this was moist and tasty. The flavours work well together, and it was certainly a nice change from the usual 2-piece chicken meal or Bandito Pockett.

Would I recommend trying it? Well, seeing as I’m considering having it again the next time I go to KFC, why not? It’s definitely an interesting idea, and worth giving a shot 🙂

The Chizza is available at all KFC outlets in Singapore, except for  KFC 632 Bedok Reservoir Road, Bukit Timah Plaza, KidZania, 261 Serangoon Central Drive, Sentosa and Singapore Zoo.

6 Signs You Should Probably Go To Poly

BY SARACH AND STEFITH

So O-level results have come out, which means many students are thinking about where they want to go in their next phase of life.

When we were choosing schools, we had different experiences. Sarach knew right from the start that she was never going through the one-exam-means-everything phase again, but Stefith spent forever trying to choose, and nearly appealed to go to a JC.

In the end, both of us chose to go to polytechnic, and we never looked back. Studying Mass Communication in Ngee Ann Polytechnic is probably one of the best decisions we ever made, and we’ve certainly benefited a lot from it.

Not sure if poly is the path you should take? Well, here are six signs that it might just be the place for you.

P.S: We’re writing this from our own experiences in poly, and no one ever has the same stories, so take it with a pinch of salt!

P.P.S: This post is written entirely out of the goodness of our hearts and the fact that we’re nosy old ladies on the inside. We only wish someone had paid us to do this.

1. You know what you want to study

Going to poly is best if you’re already quite certain about what you want to do. If you’re particularly interested in something which cannot be found in the A-level curriculum, say aerospace engineering, design, or business, then you should definitely consider enrolling into poly where you can study something you’re interested in. Don’t bother wasting time on getting a certificate just to go into university when you already know what you wanna do.

But if you’re kind of interested but still not quite sure? Going to the open houses and talking to the students there will help loads (plus you get lots of freebies!), but don’t worry if you missed it! You can still head over to the various polytechnic’s websites to find out more about the course and modules and ask seniors you may know in that course.

2.  You hate the thought of having one exam that will determine your life

“The thought of doing ‘O Levels’ all over again was a big N O. The JC curriculum was far too similar to secondary school and I was itching for change. The modular system of polytechnic, including assignments which were all cumulative, was a system that attracted me.” – Sarach

If you’re like her, poly will definitely appeal to you. Although there are exams and assignments throughout the academic career, there is no one final exam that determines how well you do for your whole three years.

Of course, the thing about poly is that your Grade Point Average (GPA) is cumulative. If you screw up one semester and do badly, the impact of that one semester follows you throughout your entire three years. It’s a daunting thought, but with hard work in the next few semesters, you can definitely pull your grades up.

Due to the fact that you learn different things every semester, your holidays are totally free of school work, free of revisions and free of studying since you’ll have almost no clue as to what to study for the next semester!  With that being said, this leads us to point number…

3. You hated having to go back for lessons during the holidays

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We organised a camp during our poly semester break, and we had so much fun!

Semester breaks in poly are amazing – the lecturers do not touch you at all and there are no academic school activities AKA no studying or school work! Sounds like loads of fun, and you get a proper break to spend with your friends and family. You could participate in CCA activities, travel or work/intern for extra cash and experience. The choices are endless when your 7-week break is entirely yours.

On the flip side, the long holidays can make you lose the school groove, and all your other modules will tap on stuff you’ve learnt before, so don’t throw it all away 😛

4. You work better in groups

Group projects are very common throughout poly life. You will have to learn how to manage all kinds of people and work as a team. If you’re a team player who believes that teamwork makes the dream work, then you should consider heading the poly path.

Of course, studying is still needed and there are individual assignments – but who says you have to deal with it alone?

5. You like getting your hands dirty

Stefith’s friend Charlotte interviewed Nathan Hartono for a class assignment!!!

Polytechnic is all about getting ready for the workforce, which means equipping you with the right skills set and knowledge to complete tasks in the industry. In Mass Comm, we don’t just study how to write good articles for journalism, but go out to cover events, meet and interview actual people for articles, applying to real life what we learnt in the classroom.

Polytechnic is certainly very hands-on, and we gain a lot of real-world experience which is highly sought after in the industry.

6. You didn’t really thrive in secondary school

Here’s the thing – the place that suits you best is where you thrive in. We’ve been told that JC is very similar to secondary school, so if you didn’t really enjoy your time there, you probably won’t enjoy your time in JC either. The key thing is finding a place where you learn at a comfortable pace and are happy to be in.

Be it choosing between JC or poly, or even between JCs, find an environment which you will enjoy and be able to do well in. Only you know yourself best, so check out the different open houses and do your share of research to find out what you feel will work for you.

Of course, as much as we loved studying Mass Comm, it’s not possible to be happy with your school environment all the time. There were definitely periods where we were cursing our modules and questioning why we still had to do some form of math. However, at the end of the day, we still enjoyed our time in poly tremendously, and we certainly thrived.

We loved poly, but we were still glad to graduate.

We loved poly, but we were still glad to graduate.

If you’re keen on a specific field and are pretty sure about what you want in life, the poly track is definitely the best way to go. The key thing is honestly to know yourself and know what works for you – pick the right place for yourself, and the rest will fall into place. There’s no right or wrong, no system that’s better than one of the other.

This is just our two-cents worth on some things to consider if you’re thinking about a poly education. Whatever it is you choose to do, do it with your head held high and an open mind.

All the best! We hope we’ve helped you in some way or another 😀

2016 In Review

BY SARACH AND STEFITH 

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Another year has come and gone, and it’s been one heck of a ride. So much has happened, both to us and to the world. It’s been a year with so many ups and downs, and we’ve all learnt and grown from our experiences.

2016 has been incredible for us – we graduated from polytechnic, and we started university. We travelled, we ate, we worked, we even embarked on a rather ambitious #StyleSwap project to commemorate two years of blogging together. We complained, we laughed, we screamed at each other and other people, but we’ve made it.

It’s also pretty amazing that this is our third year in review already – we started in 2014, did one in 2015, and look where we are now.

After 366 days and staring down a new year, here’s a look back at our 2016.

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BEST THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 2016 TO SARACH & STEFITH

  1. Graduation! There were times during our three years in polytechnic that we thought we wouldn’t make it out alive, but we did, and now we’re proud alumni of Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
  2. Starting university. We’re glad we wound up together in the same university, and that we’ve got each other’s backs during this next stage of our lives. Things may get tough, but we’re certainly tougher.
  3. Having the blog turn 2 and embarking on a rather ambitious project to celebrate. We didn’t know how long the blog would last, and it’s certainly getting harder to find time to write and produce content for it, but we’re determined to keep going no matter what (:

And now, to each of us individually.

SARACH

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BEST THINGS IN 2016

  1. Finally getting a standing mixer so that I can make all kinds of bakes and food. But that also means a growing reliance on machines when I used to do most of the things, like kneading dough, by hand.
  2. Going on the ACTS Mission Trip, which really opened my eyes to poverty and the great contrast between the rich and poor of various societies. I also got to make loads of new and great people there which makes me excited for next year’s trip already!
  3. Lots and lots of eating. I love eating and then going on to write about it – like have you seen how many food posts I’ve written?!

NOT-SO-GREAT THINGS IN 2016

  1. The elitist mentality of academia
  2. Carrie Fisher dying, and then her mom. It’s such a tragedy, especially when I just got started on this whole Star Wars thing and then she just had to die. I can really understand her influence even just through the movies, about how she was the sole woman-power through the series. Reading about her works and what she did to destigmatise mental illness and addiction offered me a newfound respect for her as well.

WISHES FOR 2017

  1. Become slightly healthier and down my permanent 4 month food baby to a 3 month food baby. I shall attempt to be fit. The key word is attempt as I may fail, but one can only hope.

STEFITH

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BEST THINGS IN 2016

  1. 2016 being a travelling year! I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I had to travel in 2016 – #TSLGoesHongKong in February, #BangkokBlock in April, and #StefTakesJapan in June. Each trip was an incredible adventure, and there’s a bit of wanderlust now lingering in my veins
  2. Writing for TSL on a freelance basis. Last year, I wished that I’d be able to find a good freelance writing job that I could keep at even during uni, and I’m so glad that I did.
  3. Not screwing up my first semester of university. I was really struggling with all the readings and prep work required, as well as the academic rigour, but I did well and I’m so glad. Here’s to keeping it up for the next six semesters!

NOT-SO-GREAT THINGS IN 2016

  1. Drifting away from friends, and losing once-close friendships. It’s part and parcel of growing older, and I’ve still got many friends who are as tightly-knit as ever, but it’s just a little sad.

WISHES FOR 2017

  1. Good health, some degree of wealth (please), perseverance, and that I’ll embrace turning 21 and the impending responsibilities of adulthood with grace and aplomb.
  2. To get my driving sh*t together and actually be able to drive further than the grocery store without being tenser than a harp string. And without any accidents. Fingers crossed.

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Happy New Year, everyone. May your 2017 be brilliant 😀

Before Christmas 

BY SARACH

Before all the partying and unwrapping of gifts begin (if they haven’t already), let’s all take a moment to reflect on what we’ve done through our the past year.

Indeed, Christmas has arrived all too soon and living in a bustling city like Singapore doesn’t make time slow down when we want it to – like dragging the weekends a tad longer or that holiday overseas stretched by a couple more days. The Christmas season is going to end soon, like the year. 

While awaiting for Christmas to come, Christians go through a season of Advent where we wait for the coming of Jesus being born again. It seems like He gets reborn every year but each Advent is a preparation for the second coming, be it in our death or the coming of Christ. 

This Advent, I spent a week in Phnom Penh on a mission trip under ACTS (A Call To Share), a catholic organisation under CARITAS Singapore. I was assigned to the high school education to conduct team building activities. Not knowing what to expect even though I’ve gone on one during secondary school, I had no idea on exactly what I would be bringing for the kids there and what way I could help them.  

Throughout my time there, I visited some of the student’s houses and the killing fields, which led me to a deeper insight into the lives of Cambodians. The bus journeys from the hotel to the school offered much to look at: shops (including Pepper Lunch, Koi Cafe, K-BBQ restaurants), international schools, local bakeries, various types of housing and lastly flooding. 


Being in a third world country, I could see the large gap between the rich and the poor, unlike in Singapore where even the poor have proper roofs over their heads. The rich live in big houses and shop at tourist markets while the poor have wooden planks as floor with a train passing by right outside their house every few hours. 

The students at Don Bosco are financially poor, and depending on their family circumstances, some do not pay school fees at all. I felt that the team building activities really helped them in terms of life values and traits – which was what the sisters wanted. Instead of teaching them the ABCs which the teachers themselves can teach them, providing some leadership skills and enabling them to work as a team would be much more beneficial to these teens, seeing as we’re only there for a few days. 

It was loads of fun, interacting with the students, talking to them and understanding a little more of their lives. For the lower secondary students, there was a bit of a language barrier but I learnt that teenagers all over the world are similar. They’re all cheeky and playful, and want to have some fun (I also facilitate 13 y/os in church). The upper secondary students were a lot easier to talk to, especially the Grade 11 where their English proficiency is excellent! I was slightly surprised at first but they were of great help when trying to get the whole high school to listen up. 

The Grade 11 class – oldest in the school and such a joy to teach them!


There are so many things I’ve experienced during this mission trip and a single blog post cannot explain everything. But the biggest takeaway I have is that despite the horrors of their history and situation they are in, they are very generous and have big dreams. This Advent season, I learnt the gift of giving. 

If you’re interested in overseas volunteer programmes, sign up with ACTS next year as we go to Phomn Penh, Battambang (Cambodia), Philippines and Myanmar. Even though it may be a Catholic organisation, all are welcome (met some non-Christian friends too so don’t worry!) Registration opens in June every year. Find out more at: http://acts-singapore.com

DIY: Christmas Wreath With Daiso Supplies!

BY STEFITH

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‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Christmas is my favourite time of the year, and my family has already put up our tree and all our decorations. I’m especially excited about it because we didn’t decorate last year – we were renovating the house, so we were squeezing with my grandma, and there was barely room to swing a cat, nevermind put up a tree.

This year, I decided to add my own touch to the household Christmas decor. There are lots of tutorials out there on making your own wreaths from dollar store items, so I wanted to give it a try.

We don’t really have dollar stores in Singapore, but we do have a two-dollar store – Daiso. So I popped in and helped myself to their impressive Christmas selection – they’ve got everything from ornaments to wrapping paper to toddler Santa outfits, so I picked out five items.

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Everything except the green wreath was from the Christmas section – I found the green wreath in the gardening zone, and plucked out the little white flowers to make it look less spring-like. Then, armed with a sharp pair of scissors, I deconstructed everything else into its components:

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There’s no real rhyme or reason to what I did next – I moved pieces around and tried to figure out what worked with what. I wound up not using the gift tags at all, which is just well – I’ll use them for presents this year 😀

Using superglue (UHU is my friend), I then glued all the different pieces together in the arrangement I thought was best.

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The green wreath I stuck on some snowy leaves, a fake pinecone, a sprig of plastic mistletoe, and a red flower to make it more Christmas-sy. It’d work as a nice centerpiece on the coffee table, or you could hang it up on the door as a wreath.

It would probably be the perfect size as holder for a scented candle, like one of those from Bath & Body Works or Yankee Candle. I don’t have any candles at home, so here’s a glass to illustrate:

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Edit: my mom found an old, battered candle lying around, so here’s an example of how it could look:

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For the white wreath, which is significantly more wintry, I added a sprig of faux mistletoe and a pine cone, and tied the metal Christmas tree ornament to it so that it dangles from the centre. You could also hang it up on your wall or on a door, but I decided to just hook it to a drawer.

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I also did an additional random DIY – using some of the leftover scraps, I made a little festive banner/wand for our little polar bear. I know, he’s not a traditional Christmas character, but he’s here. 

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I had a lot of fun working on this project, and I think my crafts actually turned out pretty nice! Let me know what you guys think, and feel free to share your own Christmas craft projects – sharing is caring!

It’s, after all, the most wonderful time of the year 😀

[Review] Marvelous Creatures And Where To Locate Them

BY STEFITH

…. or, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

People who know me know that I’m a bit obsessed with the Harry Potter universe. I’m pretty obvious about it – my Secret Santa in the office got me HP-themed stuff for Christmas last year.

Recently, my obsession with it has been born anew – because I watched Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Starring Eddie Redmayne (who I totally have a celebrity crush on), Fantastic Beasts is the first of a five-part film series that serves as a prequel to the events of the main Harry Potter story. The film chronicles the adventures of Newt Scamander, a British magizoologist with a suitcase full of magical creatures. He arrives in New York, and some of these creatures get loose – resulting in a whole chain of events.

Fantastic Beasts sheds light on the Wizarding World prior to the adventures of Harry and his friends – taking place in the 1920s, it occurs during the era of the rise of Grindelwald, a powerful dark wizard who plays an important role in the life of resident Yoda, Albus Dumbledore. To be fair, this film didn’t reveal much plot-wise about Grindelwald or even about Newt’s past – but it does set the stage and creates question to (hopefully) be answered in the films to come.

You don’t need to have seen the previous films or know what’s happening in the wizarding universe to enjoy and understand Fantastic Beasts (a fact that delights Sarach immensely), but if you’re a long-time fan like me, you’ll be able to catch some references and clues hidden throughout the movie.

For me, the loveliest thing about Fantastic Beasts is the acting. Eddie Redmayne does a spectacular job as the awkward, earnest Newt Scamander, who is clearly more comfortable with his beasts than with other humans. He wears his heart on his sleeve and just wants people to understand magical creatures – a rare breed of hero in the sense that he’s far softer and kinder than most.

Katherine Waterston plays Tina Goldstein, and visibly portrays how Tina chafes at her limitations and is a by-the-book cop, while Alison Sudol does an amazing job as Tina’s sister, Queenie, hiding a razor sharp mind between a vapid exterior.

Dan Fogler plays friendly Muggle (or No-Maj, in America) Jacob Kowalski, who wants nothing more than to open up his own bakery (but instead gets dragged into this magical world), and Ezra Miller wrenches our hearts open as poor orphan Credence Barebone.

The niffler | Source

The niffler | Source

The beasts featured in the film are adorably heartwarming as well – from a Niffler that manages to squeeze several pounds of jewellery into his tiny belly, to a Demiguise playing babysitter to an Occamy, the antics they get up to are hilarious. Much like the silly dog that gets stuck in a fence, or the cat that insists on following you everywhere like a stalker, the titular fantastic beasts are a sheer delight.

If you’re looking for a film to welcome December that has a mix of adventure, humour and even some romance, watch Fantastic Beasts. And if you just want to watch a handsome man run around chasing animals for two hours, that’s fine too. No judgement.

The Cheese Tart Taste Test

BY SARACH

The fad of cheese tarts has reached the shores of Singapore, with the latest BAKED opening at Westgate for all the Westies like myself to enjoy.

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The Straits Times did a mini review on which is the real baked cheese tart and included the newly opened in September Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts in Jurong Point. At first, I was confused as to which is the actual one, but fret not, I shall present to you the ultimate Cheese Tart Taste Test.

My boyfriend has a keen sense of taste and high expectations for his food which is why I decided to make him try out the tarts. In addition, he gets to exercise everyday in army (unlike me) and has not tried any of the cheese tarts prior to this test – making him almost perfect for it!

I decided to test out four tarts: Baked Cheese Tarts, BreadTalk, Cake History and, well, I decided why not try to make one? So I included a homemade one as well.

I got the recipe from blog, Dreamer’s Loft, and she has already experimented with all sorts of cheese, flour, what works and what doesn’t. It’s also one of the few recipes that got onto the Michelin Guide website so I thought I might as well try it out! The recipe was really easy to follow and ingredients relatively easy to find as well, although you might want to head over to Phoon Huat for slightly cheaper products.

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Alright, enough random talking – here is the verdict! As pictured, I named them A, B, C, D according to how I perceive them to rank with D being the worst and also my half-burnt tarts… And here’s what he thought of the tarts:

D – Homemade: Why this one so small?? sarachstefith_cheesetarttest_dSalty, probably because of the cream cheese. Actually, quite salty, almost savoury, not sweet at all. Can taste and see the burn of the tarts – this one is a failure!

B – BreadTalk: Very sweet, can taste the creaminess of the cheese. The mousse is sarachstefith_cheesetarttest_blight, almost like a custard. The pastry is soft, keeps breaking apart. Overall, not too bad and they’ve got the texture right. (BreadTalk also carries a Golden Lava Cheese Tart which we thought was quite interesting and not too salty.)

sarachstefith_cheesetarttest_cC – Cake History: Looks wise, this is like the typical cake shop tarts. Pastry is very soft but dry. The mousse is very sweet like the previous one, but the texture is almost chalky, like a New York cheesecake. Although it is soft and light, the texture is not quite on par with the previous one. I would say this is like a cheese cake tart.

A – Baked: This is pretty good, there’s a slight saltiness, but it is very well balanced. The crust is crispy and a little hard. The mousse definitely tastes like cheese, but it is not too strong. Overall, a very good balance.

Okay, after saying that D was a failure and telling me that it “looks like something you would make!”, I had to break it to him. 😂 Hey, it’s the first time I’m trying!

Actually looks not that bad... Right?

Actually looks not that bad… Right?

I had to agree with him on the verdict though – Baked Cheese Tarts were the best. I’ve also tried the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts from Jurong Point and did not like their pastry as much – I thought it was too hard and crispy for my liking and the cheese mousse was not as flowy as those of Baked. The ultimate verdict for me would be Baked, Hokkaido, BreadTalk, Cake History then my homemade ones. The recipe said to add salt if needed, and I think I added a little too much at the last minute. I would definitely want to try baking them again though!

BAKED Cheese Tarts
Address: 
B4-33 Ion Orchard and B2-04 Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive
Price: $3.50 each, $19.50 for a box of 6. Customers can only buy up to 12 tarts. 

Opening Hours: 
10am to 10pm
Tips: Expect long queues, but I went slightly after 10am and there were none! They also allow you to “inspect” your tarts before purchase. 

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Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts
Address: 
1 Jurong West Central 2, #B1-K2 Jurong Point
Price: $2.90 each; $14.50 for a box of 6
Opening Hours:
10am to 10pm
Tips: 
Not to be mistaken for the Baked cheese tarts – these hail from Malaysia by the Secret Recipe group. 

BreadTalk / The Icing Room
Address:The Icing Room –  B1-105 Jurong Point and B2-58 NEX; BreadTalk shops – B1-11 Paragon and B2-31 313@Somerset; Bread Society – B4-08 Ion Orchard; Toast Box – B1-167 Suntec City
Price: $2.40 each; 4 for $8.80, for both original and golden lava flavours
Opening Hours:
Various timings

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Cake History
Address: Located at various MRT stations such as – Boon Lay, Toa Payoh and Bukit Batok Stations 
Price: $2.20 each
Opening Hours:
Various timings

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Cheesy Hotpot Goodness @ Hook On Steamboat

BY STEFITH

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One rainy Tuesday evening in October, when it was absolutely chucking it down, I dragged my butt all the way to Kembangan (from NUS, which is like in Clementi) to meet my friends for dinner.

Why the heck did you guys feel the need to go all the way to the East, you may ask.  Isn’t there good food nearer to Central, you wonder. Yes, there’s plenty of good food in the Orchard/Somerset/Dhoby area, and we eat there a lot. However, we went all the way to Kembangan for one thing – CHEESY HOTPOT.

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Tucked away in the landed properties near Kembangan MRT station, Hook On Steamboat blends in with the zhichar restaurant next door and the coffee shops around it. But it’s home to the most decadent hotpot experience you’ll ever have – one filled with cheese. I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was too busy eating, but it was SO GOOD.

I know it sounds horrifyingly rich, but think of it as more of a cheese fondue than anything else. You’re not actually cooking anything in the cheese – you cook the meat/fish/ insert food item of your choice on the grill around the hotpot, and once that’s done, dip it in the melted, gooey goodness for a cheesy twist. And when you’ve gotten a little sickly from all the cheese, feel free to request for them to change your hotpot to more traditional soup bases, like tom yum or chicken and corn.

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look at the gooey cheese

Hook On Steamboat deserves credit for being incredibly innovative and value-for-money. Their hotpots are $22.90++ per person ($19.90 per person from Tue – Thu). They also have a fancier option which costs more, featuring items like abalone, but let’s be real – you probably don’t want to dip that in cheese.

For an additional $4.90, you can get free flow canned drinks and ice-cream. They’ve also got a beer promo of 8 pints for about $30+ bucks – we didn’t drink the night we went there, but I assure you, we were tempted.

Upon arrival, we got a table and one of the staff explained to us how the entire process worked. He was super patient and really clear, so there wasn’t any confusion about what we could order. We went with their regular Deluxe option, and being greedy, ordered just about one of everything on the menu. All their hotpot options are free flow, so you can have as many plates of chicken and fish and meatballs as your stomach can handle.

All their food is crazy fresh, and whether you dip it in cheese or not, it tastes amazing. I definitely recommend the bulgogi chicken, sambal squid, and scallops, because those were especially fantastic. We liked the sambal squid so much, we ordered a mountain of it.

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They also have an impressive selection of fishballs, meatballs, sausages, and even some weird sea urchin balls that looked positively radioactive. I didn’t eat one, but my friend Ashley reports that it was good.

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See the yellow pinwheel thing in the corner? That’s the sea urchin ball (Photo by Ashley)

We were a table of five, so we had two hotpots to share between us. We had three rounds of cheese in total, two rounds of chicken and corn soup, and one round of tom yum to end off the meal. The food did arrive in bits and pieces, but that’s fine, because it meant we never hit a point where there was a dearth of food at the table.

In terms of ice-cream options, they have the usual chocolate and vanilla, but I went for “gummy”, which was a vibrant blue and pink concoction with GUMMY SWEETS INSIDE. I didn’t take a photo of it, but I assure you, it was excellent.

I also want to give a special mention to their staff – they were efficient and helpful, and also really patient with us. We dropped one pair of tongs and two pairs of chopsticks, and kept asking for ice and accidentally burnt out one pot of soup, but they always replaced it for us. They were also really helpful, checking in on us to see if there was anything we needed.

With great food, excellent service, and amazing prices, Hook On Steamboat is worth the Journey to the East for. My only quibble is that their indoor seating is pretty smoky, and could do with better ventilation – do sit outside if you can. We sat indoors to prevent our cheese hotpot from becoming cheese soup in the storm, but while it did get a little smoky it wasn’t too bad.

Looking for a mookata-esque experience with a bit of a twist? You know where to go.

Hook On Steamboat
Address: 389 Changi Road, Singapore 419838
Opening Hours: 5pm – 12am
Tel:  6844 0389
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Non-Entrée Desserts: An Avalanche of Flavours

BY SARACH

Non Entrée Desserts recently captured everyone’s attention again – not for their famous Instagram-worthy Avalanche treats, but for some Singaporean savoury desserts.

HUH? Savoury and desserts? Yes, and it might seem a little weird but I assure you that this combination does make your mind blow for a while.. At least mine did.

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My boyfriend and I went there on an unassuming, warm Thursday afternoon, perfect to grab some cold treats at a quaint cafe. I’m usually not one to go on an impromptu adventure but this was how it went: he sends link of some article that featured some interesting food, I go WOW, he wants to try, my sweet tooth says okay and off we went.

We tried three different desserts and I must say that all the desserts and drinks are quite Instagram-Boomerang-worthy. They all look so cute and out there to make your feed pretty and tempt others to want to try. So here’s what we had:

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Bak Chor Mee ($14.90): Part of the Back To The Future series, this dessert really looks like your hawker center Bak Chor Mee. But once in the mouth, the coldness and sweetness kind of shocks you because it’s so unexpected! This dish is all about textures: the slight crunch of the sesame snow “minced meat”, ice cream “fish”ball, springy mango “noodles”. Bursts of flavors from tang of raspberry “chili sauce” and mango, sweetness of sea coconut and ice cream make it all like an explosion in your mouth! It looks so unassuming but it definitely plays around with experimental flavours. I’m not sure if the flavours are well balanced as I feel as if there’s something missing. I could be a little biased as I don’t like sea coconut which was the “mushroom”. However, my boyfriend loves it though and thought it was amazing how it plays mind tricks on those consuming it. I had to take a while to adjust and tell myself I was eating something sweet – it can really be a mentally draining eat but if you love it, go all out!

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Matcha Avalanche ($13.90): This was what everyone initially came here for right?! It was a must-try for me and we took a while before deciding to get the Matcha one. They recently added Horlicks as part of the Back To The Future series but I decided we should try something that was already on the menu. Unlike the previous dessert, this is considered “safe”, with flavours that already naturally go well with each other: matcha, chocolate, vanilla, caramel bits. The warmth of the cake in contrast to the cold ice cream, is always a winning combination. It also has a pleasant texture with the crunch of the “sand” and caramel biscuit on top.

I really loved this dessert, not just because of the flavours, but the novelty of it! It’s something you can’t get anywhere else with the lava cake flowing down to your little “garden”, and then you attacking it with your spoon and munching it all down. The waiters even tell you how to go about “erupting” your cake volcano and making an avalanche of it. I would definitely go back for more.

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Rubber Ducky ($12.90): You can’t just stop at two right? One look at this dessert and it really brightens up your day! It’s almost filled with sunshine and smiles that it really brings back the old times of having a rubber ducky in the pool or shower. It even comes in a bath tub and soap bubbles! This dessert is all about refreshing flavours from the tang of the lemon sorbet and mango puree. The creme fraiche pudding was good as well and paired well with everything else. My boyfriend even mentioned that it tastes like what Mama Lemon might taste like – that’s how strong the lemon taste and smell was! A really cute dessert that is just full of freshness, something you would want on a hot and sunny day!

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We also tried the Ribena Lemonade (+$6 for Themed Drinks) to complete our “meal”, and it was refreshing as well! It had ice cream in it which made really pretty swirls until we drank them all up. Don’t worry, they serve water as well!

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The ambiance of the place was really cool. It has a vintage feel, friendly and chill vibe – they were even playing old songs! Although it might be a bit more on the pricey side for desserts, I feel that it is really worth the experience and great for an amazing sweet treat. I thought it was perfect for a quick Thurs-date in the hot afternoon. We’ll definitely want to go back again, but heads up, it might get crowded over the weekends!

Non Entrée Desserts
Address:
204 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218451
Nearest MRT:
Farrer Park 
Opening Hours: 
(Tue – Thurs) 2pm–10pm, (Fri) 2pm–11pm, (Sat) 12noon–11pm, (Sun) 12noon–10pm, Closed on Mondays
Facebook: facebook.com/nonentreedesserts