Icee


In space, no one can hear your brain freeze

Does anyone know where Icee can be bought in Singapore? 7-11 used to sell them, and I thought I blogged about it, but Naomi reminded me I had merely talked about Slurpee, which is like a poorer cousin that Taufik sells.

What happened? Has the Inconvenient Truth caused the demise of the sweatered polar bear? If so, this calls for a haiku to Icee.

No, this calls for a William McGonagall-styled tribute:

I used to enjoy your colourful range
Green blue red and sometimes orange
Then stick out my tongue for all to see
You gave much more than bubble tea
How that sold I’m not too sure
With their bubble-caused choking fear

On every warm day you gave us cheer
And every brain freeze we hold so dear
Where have you gone, Icee Polar Bear
Has global warming made you rare?

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The big and small of it

So small, ok?
“No boss, never bluff you one, the cup is so small only”

Naomi and I always order double espressos when we need our coffee (except when we’re at Caffe Beviamo Tanglin Mall, because Eleen Cai makes a mean latte), and apparently, there are many Singaporeans who send their coffees back when they realise a double espresso isn’t as voluminous as they expect it to be, given the ‘double’ and the extra 50 – 80 cents you pay for an extra shot.

This is why staff at Changi Airport Terminal One’s Caffe Ritazza have been instructed to inform customers who order espressos that, “it comes in this small cup, is that ok?”

I can imagine their concern too, if there were many customers who would protest at the smallness of their $4 something coffee and demand a refund or an exchange for a jumbo long black.

“Must say, because some customers not happy”, said Rajoo the barista/cashier/manager, when we asked him if he always informed customers who order espressos. He seemed relieved that we knowingly ordered our foolish little beverages in their silly little cups.

We also almost suggested to him that he should put up a signboard to inform customers of the size of the espresso cup, but stopped ourselves because, you know, he might just have done that.

Having said that, Rajoo was a very good sport, agreeing to pose for a picture because we told him that we would help him educate the public and save him the trouble of informing every espresso orderer.

So, an espresso, double espresso, macchiato or double macchiato come in this really small cup. Is that ok?

There.

But there are reasons to be concerned about shrinking portions, as Naomi and I realised a few days ago when we dined at what used to be one of our frequent quick fix dinner places. Pictures in the menu (which I rely on a lot because my Chinese, she is the sucks) were grossly misleading as we ended up having a not so satisfying dinner and having a further two late night suppers to make up for it.

While I should know better than to blog about price hikes and how they affect my unborn children, I think it’s ok to talk about how some altruistic businesses have shouldered some of the burden by being absorbent citizens:

Absorbent nation
The Absorbent Nation

But really, the sheer shrinkage of portions is getting ridiculous:

Amazing Shrinking Dumplings!

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881 and 42nd National Day

881Finalposter800Royston Tan is a bastard – make me cry on National Day! But congratulations Mindee and Yann Yann – Papaya Sisters rock!

I’ve said before that if we get one good local movie a year, we’d be lucky. Last year we had Colin and Yen Yen’s Singapore Dreaming and then Tan Pin Pin’s Singapore Gaga, so that was pretty much a bumper crop by our standards.

Last night, we paid good money to watch our first Royston Tan film, 881, and damn it was good money well spent. This film alone makes for a bumper year.

I’ll have to admit an earlier aversion to his debut, ’15’, even though my friends told me it was really not a bad piece despite its run-in with the censors (‘aiyah, rebel film wannabe’, I thought), and we thought we’d watch 881 because the subject was interesting enough (hungry ghost getai), we knew the actors personally, and we’d already watched Harry Potter V and Simpsons wasn’t playing at the hour we wanted to watch a movie.

It turned out to be a happy conspiracy of factors, because, dammit, if you have no other plans this weekend, go buy tickets now and watch already. And even if you had plans, cancel them and go buy tickets and watch already.

It blew us away, this bloody Royston Tan film, and that’s really ’nuff said, unless you take pleasure in knowing that the token Mediacorp-contracted actor has no lines in the film because his character’s a mute, and his voiceovers are done by Royston himself anyway.

What’s not to like about a film which if you were to summarize in a summary sort of thingie, you’d call it a ‘Hokkien Musical Which Is Something Like Moulin Rouge‘?

Don’t wait for 881 to make its rounds on the European festival circuit. Go watch now, and tell the Ang Mohs you watched it at your local cinema first.


One half each – title track music video from 881

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Mindee Ong and Miyagi circa 2000: Lookee you now, Mindee, we is so proud of you! Naomi says, basket, make her cry on National Day! Well done!

So taken by Royston’s film we were that I’m writing this blog post back to front, because we had planned to make an evening out of National Day – going out to eat, skipping the parade because we’d already seen two rehearsals, and then catching the movie before heading home and to bed.

OK, where was I? Ah, yes, we started the afternoon out at Tanglin Mall, because a good coffee was needed to kick-start our day, and there still isn’t anywhere else (or anywhere convenient) that serves as good a coffee as Caffe Beviamo. Just check out the crema:

Crema e gusto!

Then we looked around at the new furniture/lifestyle/dunnowhat shop that had been making us curious because it’s predecessor ‘Barang Barang’ had several months ago suddenly closed shop at both Tanglin Mall and Great World City, boarded up, and all we could hear were sounds of renovation. Called ‘iwannagohome‘, this shop is tons brighter than Barang Barang because of the huge number of lights they use. It’s worth a look or two before you decide, hmmm, I don’t have so much spare cash to buy these things which I can probably find in Thailand or Indonesia if I had the time and spare cash to fly there to buy.

Sometimes, warped shoppers’ logic can save you a bit of money.

Then it was off to the Straits Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt for dinner, which we thought was pretty apt because it’s a buffet, and how much more Singaporean can you get at a buffet? Actually, you can, when you realise the price is not bad either – $42 per person, to commemorate the 42nd National Day. This is also where I get to say that for that price, it’s really really worth it when you can eat as many bowls of the “Mini Buddha Jump Over The Walls soups as you can manage:

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Mini Buddha Jump Over The Wall – or is it Buddha Jump Over the Mini Wall?

A meal like that was always going to make on feel downright patriotic, wherever you may hail from. A jumble of cuisines, fresh fruit and desserts, brisk service. The only thing that was lacking was the horrible, horrible choice of music. We know it’s called the Straits Kitchen and you’re trying to recreate a ‘Straits’ ambience. But Canto and Mando pop tunes, and maudlin Malay slow rock ballads do not make for a good digestive accompaniment. That was probably the only salah thing about dinner, though.

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Quick, dude, they’re not looking. Pour the rest on the floor!

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When I eat chili crab, I need two finger bowls because I’m messy like that

For the rest of National Day, I hear people enjoyed themselves, and we saw a couple dressed in red and white waiting for a cab to probably take them to the floating platform. So patriotic, so Singaporean, we thought. Then we saw another couple, also in red and white, and walking ahead of the other couple so that they’ll get a cab faster. More Singaporean, we thought. And no better day to display that.

National Day
Unbeknownst to Auntie and Uncle, another Auntie and Uncle have just walked 20m up the road to snatch a passing cab. Majulah Singapura!

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It’s good to be a kaypoh nation


Asleep in car – by Andwar

Earlier tonight we went out to Holland Village for a bite and to take a short break from work. At 11:45 p.m., parking wasn’t hard to find.

We parked next to a car that had its engine running and its sole occupant motionless in the driver’s seat. We didn’t think much of that and we went off to NYDC.

Friday night out at the village was something we hadn’t experienced for a long time, and I swear, people looked different, and I think fashion trends must’ve changed a bit, because both of us felt a little out of place at this ‘young people cafe’, even though we were greeted by the familiar (and old) ‘NYDC cat’, who’s always at the doorstep of the cafe every time we walk past.

We sat amidst the din of many young people, and we ordered our drinks, and cake, seeing as it is my birthday. And then I took out my new MacBook Pro, hooked it up to the free wi-fi and started looking for bits of information that might help the project we’re working on, but the noisiness of the place put paid to that.

Naomi grabbed a copy of IS Magazine and started looking through interesting stuff about our island’s night life and arts scene. She was done in about five minutes, and at midnight, I was very happy to have my wife kiss me and wish me happy birthday, and we thought we’d spend the next half hour or so fielding birthday text messages from friends and well-wishers. There were only three (and one of them was from Naomi), so that didn’t take us too long either.
Just as well, because as with most outings these days, we had to keep it short because of Naomi’s painful back. So we headed back to the car park, where the car with the running engine and motionless occupant was still there. The windscreens were all fogged up, and we were a little concerned because it had been close to an hour since we’d left the car park.

“You think he’s ok?”, asked a very concerned Naomi, so I peered into the car just in time to see the occupant’s chin loll onto his chest, which moved in a way that resembled breathing.

“Yup, he’s alive”, I said, and we got into our car because, you know, we really didn’t want to be too kaypoh. And we don’t like kaypoh people, do we?

But something stopped us from driving off. Maybe it was the recent story about the taxi-driver who was found dead in a car park after many passers-by had thought he’d just been drunk and sleeping. So I got out of the car, looked into the window, then decided to get back into our car, but we felt uneasy, and I got out again. Then in again, then out again, and in again until I thought, what the hell am I doing?

Then Naomi asked, “what the hell are you doing?”

So I got out of the car again and tapped on the running engine car’s window. There was no response, so I tapped harder. And some more, until I must have scared the bejeezus out of what we then knew as a sleeping man, who woke up and spent five seconds wondering such pertinent things like, “Whadda!…! Wha!” and “Whadda!”, before he found the button to roll down the window and ask me what I wanted.

“Are you ok?”, I asked, and patiently waited for his brain to register the question and formulate an answer, which eventually came in the form of a puzzled sounding, “ok, yah! I’m ok?”.

I then wanted to tell him, “You know, carbon monoxide is odourless and poisonous and car engines produce a lot of that stuff which can get into the comfortably air-conditioned cabin of a stationary car”, but chocolate and cheesecake and ice-cream makes your brain as fast as flowing molasses, so I merely said, “OK, you shouldn’t sleep inside your car so long, roll down your windows a bit”.

It’ll have taken a while for him to fall back asleep again, if that were his purpose. But Naomi and I were glad we did as much as we could without agitating the sleeping man too much.

Of the many things I’m wishing on my birthday, one of them is, please, don’t sleep in your car with the engine running and the air-con on – it’s dangerous; and the other is, if you do see someone motionless in their car or anywhere else in public, please, check on them to see if they’re ok.

I mean, if we’re kaypoh enough to be unconcerned that we’re causing another traffic bottleneck by slowing down to take a closer look at a traffic accident in the next lane, we should be kaypoh enough to check on our fellow citizens when it looks as though there’s a chance they’re in trouble and might need some assistance.

Embrace your inner kaypoh! You might save a life. Come to think of it, kaypohness should be a civic duty.

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All-Coconut

So we were walking past a Thai restaurant, and it was the middle of a busy Sunday afternoon and all, and the colourful Thai desserts on display caught our eye, as they are designed to. We stopped to see what we wanted to stuff our faces with, as they are designed to.

A waitress working behind the dessert counter told us that the kueh were “minimum six pieces, six dollars and five cents”, while we mulled over which six of the colourful tiles on offer to pick.

“What’s the yellow one?”

“Coconut”

“The green one?”

“Coconut”

“Yah, we know, and so’s the white one, but what else are they made of? Can’t be all coconut and then just different colour right?”

“Don’t know, but all got coconut”.

“OK, four white coconut one, one yellow coconut one, and one green coconut one.

“I think the green one is pandan and coconut”

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Separate pots

Cosmopolitan or bust
Today’s Special: Melting Pot

I’m thinking that if we must remain cosmopolitan, then we’d better do away with the damn Hua Yu Cool campaigns, or at least, match that with Bahasa Bagus and Tamil Terrific campaigns. Else we’re quite damned to becoming a mostly Chinese chauvinistic society with no respect for our cosmopolitan heritage.

I say ‘cosmopolitan heritage’ because there was a time when the entire country seemed to speak better English than the Good that they are trying to get the populace to speak, when no one batted as much of an eyelid when a troubled English boy sought refuge in a local Malay family to grow up and become the doyen of local radio announcers; when there wasn’t so much of a cultural cringe when the brands and dialects of Chinese spoken on mediums such as Rediffusion could be and were relied on by many; when we weren’t asked to Pinyinize our Chinese names for ourselves as well as for places; and when local Chinese television didn’t start to try to sound like Taiwanese or Mainland Chinese just because they thought they were the real deal.

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Eating well

SaladI’ve decided to ask some of my friends to come over for dinner more often instead of infecting the heartland with their idiosyncrasies‘.

I believe I’m quite a handy cook, and tonight, I made these dishes:

Mr Miyagi’s Anyhowly Dinner Menu:

  • Bruschetta ala Saw How It Was Made The Other Day On The Telly
  • Salad of Aragula, Baby Spinach, Button Mushroom, Kalamata Olive, Tomatoes, Roasted Zucchini with Lemon Juice & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Dressing
  • Heinz’s Boston Clam Chowder From The Can
  • Penne with Sauce of White Wine (Riesling, I think), Tomato, Garlic, Sausage I Bought From the Supermarket

It’s when you get to pause, go to the market, buy tasty ingredients, cook up a storm, and sit, eat and watch American Idol with good friends that you think, ‘life’s really not bad if we could do with these moments regularly’.

I strongly recommend everyone do this. If you can’t cook, I’m quite sure there’ll be a chef among your friends you can persuade to take time off to whip something up for your gang.

Painting flavours

NogawaThere’s a little Japanese restaurant on Sentosa whose name is an institution in Singapore, and we were fortunate enough to be invited there to eat ourselves to death last Saturday night.

It was by far the best Japanese food I have ever tasted in my life. I know Japanese food is supposed to be delicate and its flavours intricate, but Nogawa’s newest restaurant at Sentosa Golf Club is really a hidden treasure – especially if you’re not accustomed to travelling to Sentosa for dinner (we were saying we were a few years too early – there’d be much more to do if a casino were already there), or if you were not a member of the Sentosa Golf Club.

I’m not a foodie, and I find it difficult to describe food, unlike them slow food convivivivors, and I often just say if the food’s “good” or “bad”.

But at Nogawa’s Sentosa… Man! Every morsel of every dish seemed to paint a subtly distinct flavour in my mouth. If you can imagine a Pantone chart-like chart of flavours, you’d know what I mean.

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Fake fakes

Some of the fake fur used in clothing isn’t synthetic, and actually contains dog hair.

“Americans don’t want Lassie turned into a fur coat,” Moran said. “In the US, we treat cats and dogs as pets, not trimmings for the latest fashion wear.”

Apparently most of the fake fakes come from China, which isn’t really surprising, given they have a tendency of producing fakes of everything.

This reminds me of the time I dined at a supposedly venerated vegetarian restaurant in Sanya on Hainan Island. The establishment prided itself in creating dishes which were supposedly the closest visual and flavour facsimiles of meat dishes.

So we had mock-roast duck, mock sweet sour pork, mock steamed fish (the steam was real), mock braised chicken, mock stir-fried beef – basically every dish in a non-vegetarian Chinese restaurant menu you could poke your chopsticks at, and which might have been the envy of a person who was vegetarian on account of his religion, this place could and did mock-up.

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So, when the 2nd last dish was served – braised buck-choy with garlic – my cousin, in mock-delight, cried, “wow, mock vegetables!”, at which a surprisingly life-like waitress swooped in and informed my cousin, with genuine concern, that the vegetables were real.

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