Monday, 14 May 2018

Ha-Mess Taqueria at 33 Bali Lane

When you think of alcohol, what finger food comes to your mind? Chicken Wings? Fries? How about Tacos and Quesadillas for a change! Ha-Mess Taqueria is a newly opened bar along Bali Lane that serves Mexican cuisine, and it sounds like a lovely place to chill with your friends/ colleagues after work! 


We had the Spicy Chicken and Chile Beef Tacos, as well as Chile Beef and Chargrilled Shrimp Salsa Quesadillas.
This is the kind of unassuming dish that got you fooled. While it looked simple without any fanciful plating decor, this dish is packed with so much flavours that got me munching on non-stop. Let's start with the Tacos first. The tortilla wrap had a perfect crisp (at least that's what I think). I ever had tacos with the wrap that was either way too crunchy like chips, or they are too hard to bite on. It wasn't a messy affair which was a bonus. 

Don't freak out too much if you're seeing too many "spicy" and "chilli" descriptions, my bf is not really a spice lover (in fact pretty bad at eating spicy food), but he was enjoying it all the way. The overall taste was balanced, not overpowering and just perfect for our palate. Both of us agreed that the Spicy chicken tacos tasted better, although both are worth dirtying your hands for. (No wonder it's called Ha-mess which means Happy Mess!)



The Quesadillas did not disappoint as well. The portion was so generous that the beef was almost overflowing from the wrap. If you're really hungry and want something shiok to go with your drinks, go for this. Almost like a spicy version of Spaghetti Bolognese but in a wrap with an extra kick of flavours.



I personally prefer the Chargrilled Shrimp Salsa which was sweet and tangy. Comparing to the Chile Beef, this was also lighter for my palate. I could do with a little more prawns in my dish, but otherwise everything was satisfying enough. I love how such a well-balanced dish was created from simple ingredients and it can actually taste so delicious.



Updated menu:


It was a very simple and unpretentious meal, but it left us truly satisfied. I'm definitely coming back for the tacos if I'm around Bugis!

Great place for drinks and tacos!

Ha-Mess Taqueria
33 Bali Ln, Singapore 189869

P.S. This is a food tasting invite but all opinions are my own

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Random highlights of our BKK trip in April 2018

I'm back from my holidays! My friend told me that if I stayed there any longer I'm migrating there. True enough, friends around us were quite shocked to know that we went to BKK for 8 days. Tbh that's a little long for a BKK trip but you got to maximise the numbers of days since the flight is already paid for. #monicelogic


The trip might seem a little long to some but if you prefer a relaxing holiday, 1 week is the way to go especially with our plans to visit animal cafes and night markets. I can't wait to write about some of the cafes we have explored, but first, here are some highlights of our trip. This might be quite wordy but I would love to look back at these memories years from now :) I have been blogging a lot about reviews and I really want this space to be part of my personal diary.

Anyway... my bf totally freaked me out on the first night of our trip, thanks to the crickets that he bought at the night market. He have tried it many times last year with no issues, but almost immediately after he ate 1 plate of those, he kept sneezing. I didn't really think too much into it as he always has a sensitive nose, and I thought it might just be the polluted air. But no, it didn't stop there. It was more serious than usual and he had some red swollen bumps on his neck and thigh (Not too many, just a few, but it was quite unusual). I assume it was an allergic reaction, and who knows what these insects contain right? Thankfully my mum packed me a life saviour pouch filled with medicine, and I had some runny nose pills which were effective for allergies somehow.

NO MORE INSECTS EVER AGAIN, serious.

Comparing to our previous trip, we were spending a lot more on shopping. But shopping in BKK means a little more money spent can get you a lot more clothes. And I didn't want to have any shopping regrets like last year, I felt like I didn't get enough. And I think it's never enough right? (My mum just told me that my wardrobe has insufficient space)

We brought about $1200 worth of Thai baht + additional S$200 just in case. And at the back of my mind I kept worrying that we do not have enough, because I forgot to budget for my souvenirs. NEXT YEAR, I WILL BRING MORE.

My friend Alicia kept recommending me the hotel's room service since last year but I've yet to try. I thought that it's a good opportunity since I was a little worried about insufficient cash. The room service turned out really delicious! It's not 5 stars quality but definitely delicious for room service standards. Carbonara is a must-try! The dishes mostly range from 200baht onwards. We're staying in Berkeley Hotel btw!


We also visited JJ Green which was an impromptu decision at the very last minute. We didn't really have solid plans for dinner and Siam area was getting boring after a while. We were a little reluctant at first due to the heavy traffic jam and increase in Grab fare. Knowing its a famous tourist market to visit, we gave it a try and we had NO REGRETS. We had some of the best buys at the market (It was so huge we're not sure if we finished combing the whole area?) Best impromptu decision made.

Shopping was really fantastic this year. I didn't really have much regret buys, maybe 1 or 2 pieces (But I got it at quite a low price so I can still sell it to cover my cost). Other than that, I'm happy! The best steal was our denim jacket. We got 1 each for 100 baht (~$4) OMG. Bf also bought many of his favourites like Godzilla, Joker and Chrome hearts. I also bought myself a Joker, Cap America and Spiderman plain t. Spiderman specifically to watch Avengers Infinity war!!!



We went to quite a few Animal cafes as well! Skipped the last one - House of Paws as there weren't as much dogs as before. Actually main reason was because it was compulsory to order a dessert + drink set, and I was damn bloated already. The best cafe experience was at Big Dog Cafe, I will blog more about that soon! #reallybigdog
Big Dog Cafe

Truelove Neverland

Pooltime Raccoon Cafe

Last silly highlight of the trip goes to Burger King. Oh gosh, you want to make a guess how much would it cost to have a Burger King meal at BKK Airport?

Bf just went ahead to order the meal without thinking too much, who would expect much from a normal fast food meal right? And guess what? 2 normal meals + upsize = 830 baht (~$32) I NEARLY FAINTED. (Just kidding). But really heartpain ttm. Just the burger ala-carte alone its almost 10 bucks. Went to do a quick search on Google, and apparently we're not the only one saying this. No more Burger King in BKK Airport anymore.

This ends the random highlights of our BKK trip! Stay tuned for my reviews if you're interested to know more about the cafes or you can read more here: https://mons-diary.blogspot.sg/search/label/BKK


Friday, 27 April 2018

Cake-Decorating Masterclass in Sugarpaste at Artistiq Sugarcraft

I decided to take up a Sugarpaste Masterclass at Artistiq Sugarcraft to upgrade my fondant skills as I have been getting more fondant orders nowadays. It can be a little stressful as I am more specialised in buttercream cakes. In my opinion, fondant cakes tend to be more unforgiving than buttercream cakes as there are problems with humidity, fondant tearing and storage difficulty. Tier cake is also another challenge.

Last year, I contemplated between Bake it yourself (BIY) and Artistiq Sugarcraft. I chose the Wilton 1-3 courses at BIY because it was cheaper, but they have already closed down recently. Artistiq seems to have more variety of courses and since there were no better alternatives, I decided to go for Artistiq's Masterclass in Sugarpaste. I initially wanted to go for Sugarflowers but Sugarpaste was actually a foundation course in fondant cakes.

The team was also very patient in answering my enquiries on FB, and they would send me the course information via email. The 4-day Masterclass is $1150. This might seem like a huge amount of money to invest but if you break it down, it's really reasonable. All ingredients and materials were provided for the class and we get to bring back a huge bag of tools! The class was only limited to 4 pax, which was a priority for me because I'd prefer if the instructor is able to focus their teaching on just a few of us.



Sorry if this post is quite wordy, but I hope it will be useful for those who are interested to take up some baking/decorating courses!

Day 1 was relatively simple with some introduction in fondant (Sugarpaste) and gumpaste. It's good to go through some foundation skills even though I already have some experience with doing fondant cakes. You might never realize that you are making some kind of mistakes along the way (no matter how minor it seems).


I have never covered dummy cakes before and I always thought it would be more challenging as the dummy cake is made from styrofoam and is so light to deal with. Turns out that it is actually more forgiving than it seems! And I'm surprised that it can create such a smooth texture even without the use of ganache or cream.

Day 2 was the most interesting for me as I was able to decorate my own mannequin 3d cake! I tend to freak out with 3d cakes and hence I never really made 1 before. Time to step out of my comfort zone!! The whole dress looks complicated but breaking down it is actually not too difficult after all! As I have already made my teddy bear cake pink, I chose blue instead. Blue dresses reminds me of Cinderella!

Only the mannequin cake was made of real cake and I was glad to be able to try out some slight carving techniques (although the cake was already in dome shape).


There were still some untidy details that didn't make the dress so complete, but practice makes perfect! And it's only my first try ;) My fave part of the cake is the bow!


Day 3 and 4 involves making of our Finale Cake. We spent the whole Day 3 covering 3 dummy cakes. It is really not easy trying to roll out such a uniform flat piece of fondant for a big cake! I was actually amazed by myself being able to pull it off somehow, with the help of my instructor to mend some parts of the pink cake.

The ombre watercolour fondant design was really fun to make! I love how every cake is so unique and the colours will not turn out like what you expected. And yes I was expecting my cake to be a little more pink than red.


We learnt how to make figurines on Day 4. I am usually more comfortable with making some types of cartoon and animals, but not so much with humans. For some particular reason, I find it difficult to master the proportions. As you can see below, I'm still new to some techniques, for e.g. the boobs HAHA. So much creases that I have to modify the wedding dress to cover the flaws.


I enjoyed making the bride's hair and honestly I am tempted to make her hair longer. Her arms are a little awkward but I think so far so good? What do you think?

I really hope to be able to make a 3 tier cake of my own in the future to come! 


If you're interested in their courses, do read up more here: http://www.artistiqsugarcraft.com/

I hope to join their Sugarflower course soon when I have the time!

Artistiq Sugarcraft
37 Niven Road
Singapore 228384
Tel: +65 62388806
(Short walk from Bencoolen or Little India MRT)

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Things to take note of when planning for your holiday trip

April is definitely my favourite month of the year because it's my birthday! I find it the best time to go on a vacation with my bf because it feels like a special celebration trip as compared to just any ordinary trip. This is the second time we are flying to BKK together and we're so excited! Last year, it was a disaster before our trip because of a mistake I made and you'll find out more in my post.

Some people prefer to go on a spontaneous holiday because of excitement and unpredictable experiences. Personally, I cannot stand it without an itinerary. I would rather spend a little more time planning my trip than to waste our time deciding where to go in the middle of our trip.

I'm not a travel expert but I'd love to share some of the things I would do when planning for my holidays ;)


How to plan for your trip?

Choice of Destination

Why did we chose BKK when there are tons of other interesting places? I think the reason is pretty obvious. BKK remains as a popular tourist destination for most Singaporeans because it is so AFFORDABLE. I feel that BKK is one of the few places where we are able to shop and eat without worrying so much about our budget. And we both love Thai food so why not right? Last year, we had quite many bowls of Thai Boat noodles and the bill was less than S$10 for 2!


Check for Festivals

The first thing to do before booking your flight ticket other than to compare flight prices, is to check for any festivals/happenings! I didn't think of this and booked our holidays during the Songkran festival last year. I know there are people who would fly there just to enjoy Songkran but it was a big no-no for me. From friend's experiences, most markets would be closed and you risk getting drenched the moment you step out of the hotel..

It was kinda a blessing in disguise in the end as we postponed our trip and extended it due to my job resignation in April. But let's not mention about the additional costs due to my mistake. 


Plan your Itinerary

Like I've said, I don't really like wasting time deciding where to visit while we're already at the country. Planning your itinerary smartly also saves you on transport and time, especially when you group activities on the same day where they are located near one another. For example, we planned to visit the new Rot Fai Night Market after Big Dog Cafe as they are only opposite each other. This might seemed like a very obvious thing to do, but if you're not familiar with the country, failing to plan your itinerary might result in missing out the small details. 

If you are not familiar with the country, just do a little bit of research on Google. There are many blogs and articles recommending the popular places and it's really not difficult to find and shortlist those that you are interested in! 


Remember to check all the opening hours as well! Most night markets tend to close on Mondays-Wednesdays. And cafes are usually closed on Monday as well. Check all this info prior to your planning and it will make things a lot easier. If you don't mind the extra work, you can even check if the cafes take reservations. And some places have strict timings e.g. True Love Neverland only opens at certain timings and is always sold out daily. You wouldn't want to travel all the way there and be disappointed.

Not sure about you but I usually plan my outfits according to the places I visit as well! The itinerary really comes in handy!

It's not necessary for us to follow the itinerary strictly but at least we have a plan! 

Budget your trip

Unless you have too much to spare, it's best to budget your trip and know how much cash to bring (At least extra SGD in case you need to change money). Having a rough budget in mind will also prevent you from overspending unknowingly.

I like to mark down the cost of every item and meal so that it's easier to refer when we wish to know how much we spent. It can also be a gauge for us to know if the next item we buy is worth the money. 


Checklist

I have a default checklist for the items that I need to bring along for my holiday trip. Seems quite kiasu but I don't want to reach the hotel and regret not bringing something I need. Always be prepared especially if you're traveling for more than a couple of days! And you wouldn't want to forget important documents like your passport anyway! 

I guess that's the main things to take note when planning for your holidays! (At least that's what I usually do)
#countdownto18april


YAY I CAN'T WAIT! 



Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Flame Cafe with NEW prices | 4 Tier Pagoda Steamboat

There are 3 types of people - the ones who love the smoky taste of a BBQ, and those who prefer to savour the soup for a shiok hotpot session. For me, I love the best of both worlds (Greedy like that). And guess what, The Flame Cafe offers a 4-tier pagoda steamboat style that allows you to enjoy your food in 4 different ways! I have actually introduced this restaurant in my blog prior to this if you haven't already know.


With high ceiling and a brightly lit area, the restaurant feels pretty spacious for a pleasant dining experience. You might have to wait for your turn at the buffet counter though as the space might be a little small for a few people to squeeze in. On a better note, you may order your seafood dishes separately and they will be served to your table. Personally, I prefer it this way as the freshness is better maintained! 


If you are coming in large groups or would like to throw a party at The Flame Cafe, they have a spacious outdoor area with pretty fairy lights. If you need to know, the place is also sheltered!




There are three types of buffet selection - Deluxe Basic Buffet Set, Premium Selection and Supreme Indulgence. (Refer to prices at the end of this post) 

The Deluxe Buffet allows you to satisfy your basic cravings for meat indulgence and the Premium Buffet gives you a few more choices of soup selections as well as a variety of seafood. If you are feeling experimental, you can even try out their DIY Mini Pizza (I think kids will love this).

For the Supreme Indulgence, you get to pick from 1 fresh Cheese Lobster per 4 pax or 1 Live Crab per 3 pax. Oysters will be included for the Supreme selection as well, but unfortunately they won't be providing oysters till further notice.



They didn't have Pink Guava juice the last time I visited, so good news for me! My brother can't stop commenting how much he loved the Thai milk tea (he drank like 5 cups). 

Look at the huge seafood variety! And these are not even everything from the menu yet. If you don't find it a hassle, you can order their flower crab as well. My personal favourites are fish paste, clams, and king prawns! The serving size on the ordering form is based on per piece unless stated otherwise. The seafood were quite fresh and the clams were really sweet unlike other places which were tasteless. Definitely a feast for the 3 of us! 


My bf is a huge fan of the crayfish and it's probably his favourite dish here. He was already commenting about the freshness while removing the shell. If cooked right, the texture is bouncy and chewy. He also stated that the crayfish at the Flame Cafe is better than most other hotpot/mookata buffets.


Sorry to say but we didn't enjoy the meat as much as the seafood. The beef was sadly on the tougher side. Surprisingly, I preferred the chicken over the beef as it was more tender. In case you were also wondering, The Flame Cafe is also a halal restaurant and therefore do not serve pork.

Thankfully, we were mostly into the seafood and shifted our focus there shortly into our meal. They were also not short of the common steamboat items like crab meat, tofu, beancurd and more.



Dip your meat in the hot gooey cheese mix for the extra shiok-ness! 


We decided to give this mini DIY pizza a try as the "brick oven" looks quite interesting. Check out our greedy pile of sauces and cheese (Not my idea btw). 


I think we should stick to steamboat because look at our overflowing pizza... I think we failed terribly in this. It's good that the pizza is kept to a really small size so that there is less wastage after enjoying all the fun. 


#dontjudge

The Flame Cafe is also launching their Executive Lunch Ala-carte Set which includes interesting flavours such as Ayam Lemak Chilli Padi Pasta and Shrimp Salted Egg Pasta! Guess what! You can enjoy the 3 course sumptuous meal for 2 at only $20 nett! (Available from Monday-Friday 12-3pm)


The Shrimp Salted Egg Pasta is packed with strong flavours. I like how the pasta is coated with creamy salted egg sauce with a hint of spice. It might get a little gelat after a few mouths but if you're a huge fan of salted egg flavor, you can give this a try!


On the other hand, I am so much in love with the Ayam Lemak Chilli Padi Pasta. My brother and I took a bite and we love it! The cream tasted a little like the green curry sauce at Malay food stalls. As spice lovers, we feel that the spiciness is not too bad. The sauce is really creamy and surprisingly it doesn't dry up even after an hour as compared to the salted egg. Yes, I actually left the pasta there because there were way too many food, but I can't help to have my 2nd ,3rd, 4th mouth subsequently because it really tasted so yummy. 

My bf cannot take spicy food, but he actually said that it's worth the recommendation! 

Refer to The Flame Cafe menu and prices below:




The Flame Cafe

Level 1, 73 Upper Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 534818


Contact: 6282 0251

P.S. This is a food tasting invite but all opinions are my own

Friday, 23 March 2018

Hoshino Coffee Bedok Point | We waited 45 minutes for the food!

I was scrolling on Bedok Point's food directory to decide what to have for dinner and noticed that Hoshino Coffee has already opened on the same day! I was excitedly informing bf about wanting to try out the new outlet. The restaurant was located just at the entrance of the mall and it's difficult to miss. As we were entering the new outlet, we were greeted by enthusiastic and friendly staff that brought us to our table at the corner.



Since it was our first visit, we wanted to try the Souffle Dessert (which they are famous for). The drinks menu looked extensive as well so we decided to go ahead with their $60++ promotion for 2 pax - 2 Main Dishes + 2 Drinks + 1 Dessert.

FYI, it is only worth it if you choose the more expensive choices. 

We were told that we could have either 2 cakes or 1 Souffle dessert. Souffle it shall be.  



The restaurant was very spacious and could accommodate quite a lot of customers, hence we didn't really have to wait for a seat. I love that they had the big sofa leathery seats which were so comfortable to sit in. I would say the ambience makes it a pretty good place for a date.




We asked for recommendation for the drinks. Bf picked the Ginger Ale while I had the Fruit tea, which was popular among ladies. The generosity level is legit. Look at that huge jar of fruit tea, I couldn't even finish half of it, what a waste.

Turns out that the Ginger is made from scratch in the restaurant. The ginger kick is quite a punch to your taste buds and I wouldn't recommend it if you're not in for that kind of surprise. If you're a fan of Ginger Ale, go ahead. 

I love the fruit tea though! It was very fruity. If you think fruit teas are supposed to taste fruity then you are WRONG. I have tasted some really tasteless ones unfortunately. 


I was craving for pasta that day and soft shell crab is one of my favourite Japanese dishes of all time! I haven't seen this combination before so I just had to try it! The pasta is packed with so much flavour. I initially thought it was a little too salty, but turns out I just didn't mix them well enough yet. The soft shell crab was also super crunchy.

At this point, I was filling up their feedback form because I loved the drinks, my dish and their exceptional service as well. I thought so. 

After my pasta arrived, we waited so long for the next dish to arrive (bf's order). And you know how restaurants shouldn't serve 2 dishes apart for too long in case people wait for each other to eat? Either way it's just weird. 

We chased them a few times and the dish only arrived 45 minutes after the order was taken, which is about 25-30 minutes after mine arrived. You should have seen how LONG I took to slowly eat my pasta just so that I could at least eat together with him. The wait was so long yet the beef was cold when it arrived (We didn't bother to send the food back to the kitchen because we waited too long already). 


The beef tasted nice but it was unfortunately overcooked and cold. Only the rice and wedges were still piping hot. What a disappointment.


Thankfully, they didn't make us wait too long for the baked Souffle dessert and it looks delicious! Bf is not really a fan of it due to the very eggy and custard taste. I wouldn't say its my favourite type of dessert but I would definitely love to try some other flavor, perhaps Matcha next time! 

Surprisingly, Souffle isn't as gelat as I thought it to be. It was quite airy and fluffy with a custard-like texture in the middle. 



We were initially quite happy with the service and food quality, however the long wait (also part of the reason why the food became cold) really ruined the rest of our dinner. The giveaway here looks tempting, but I won't be posting a 5 stars review anytime now.

While we were upset about the long wait and cold food, it might be a one-off issue due to shortage of staff. But they should have known better since it's their first opening. There are still many items on their menu that I would love to try and hopefully they won't disappoint the next time!

Hoshino Coffee

799 New Upper Changi R
 #01-01, Bedok Point, (S) 467351. 

Contact: 6284 1344