Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Yonehachi @ Takashimaya Basement

Update  30 Oct 2012: 

A few weeks ago, went back there because didn't know what else to eat. The standard of food has dropped a lot. Absolutely not worth going there at all/anymore.

In the post below, I said the food was Ok. But this is no longer the case.


(first part was written at 12.51 a.m., later part written 11.30 a.m.).

Unfortunately, I don't have pics to show while eating there, because didn't think I'd be posting about it or taking pics.

Tonight (last night, since it's 12.51 a.m. now), didn't cook. Tired. So went out with bro to try the "new" restaurant at Taka basement.

It's new because it wasn't there before and I've been wanting to try it since passing it a few times before.

During those times when I passed by, I saw the food on customers' tables looked Ok, but rice very little. Still... the counter staff taking orders looked professional and friendly, so that's a plus.

(11.30 a.m.) Was interested in their Okowa. I didn't know that's what it was called back when I ate it in at the food basement of a mall in Sendai Japan.

Okowa is steamed rice, sticky with ingredients. Looks very homemade and delicious. Looks like fried rice but this is far better. The correct portion will last long in the stomach and fill you up very satisfyingly.

When I saw the different types of Okowa in the Yonehachi display case at Taka, I wondered how their taste and flavor would compare with the one I ate in Japan, especially the one that looked like it had little clams in the rice.

As I remember it, the packet I bought from the supermarket area in Sendai, was not hot, but very sticky, full of flavor from the little brown clams and rice.

It cost around $3 or $5 and was in a shallow, transparent plastic takeaway packet. The rice had a little salty flavor and even though I don't eat clams, when I saw that rice, I bought it and loved eating it. It was something like our local Zhut Bi Berng (glutinous rice) with sweet or salty peanuts, but far better.

At Yonehachi, the menu is very nice, with a fine delicious-looking spread to choose from.

Before you sit, order at the counter first, then the seat will be assigned to you--a very efficient, orderly and perfect system. No need to worry a customer has not paid, no need for customer to wave and wave for the bill after eating.

The counter and serving staff are from China and the Philippines, but service is excellent--quick and friendly.

I ordered the Asari (clam) Okowa set, comes with a small Salmon piece, miso soup, a little cup of Japanese seaweed, a small bowl of pumpkin soup with raddish and other vegetables, a few French Bean stalks in a little plate.

Bro ordered the Chicken Teriyaki set.

Total was $28.90. An Ok price, I think, for a Japanese restaurant for 2 persons.

There was a short queue but it was cleared very fast. While ordering, the sweet scent of Gelato was just across and Bro was finding it distracting to order from the Japanese menu while his mind was being grabbed by that Gelato scent.

I said we can try that ice-cream after our meal, so then he could pay attention to what he wanted to order from the Yonehachi menu.

Table #2. To our right, was a real Japanese woman with her young daughter.

If you notice, Japanese people don't eat at those common Japanese restaurants that we go to. It's because the rice does not taste Japanese at all, and sometimes, the rice tastes like Chinese rice without flavor. Those are not real Japanese restaurants.

If you see Japanese people eating at a Japanese restaurant/counter-top, it should mean the rice and food are close to the real thing.

So, when I saw this Japanese woman with her daughter, it upped the expectation of what I had ordered, and I was keen.

In about 10 mins or so, the 2 sets arrived together. Most excellent. This should be the way, instead of one and then another (although completing everything in an order at the same time can be difficult).

I ate everything around the side first, leaving the Okowa last so I can savor it slowly and fully.

Everything around the side tasted very homemade and bland. So, you could say it's healthy. But too little of everything.

The clear soup was nice--a little soup with a slice of pumpkin with its skin, a small piece of radish (gave to bro), a bit of vegetables. This was the only dish with some flavor from the sweetness.

(Usually, I cut away the pumpkin skin, but I notice Japanese restaurants like Botejyu retain it, so maybe I should keep it too. But how to get it so soft?).
The Okowa--was bland. Asari were quite plentiful in there, with some green beans, but overall too bland and no flavor from the Asari at all. Totally different from what I ate in Sendai.

This Okowa at Taka was also nice, but portion was too little.

For drinks, since we didn't order anything, we were served water (which was already very good, considering Streets restaurant @ Liang Court serves nothing).

Overall, the meal at Yonehachi was not hearty enough, not satisfying enough and very bland. But still Ok.

As for the Okowa rice, the taste of the grains still loses to that I tried at Sendai.

How close is the Okowa to the real thing? Just on its own, without comparison, Yonehachi's Okowa is Ok, quite nice. But compared to the real thing... 2/5.

(Maybe Yonehachi's Okowa is made differently depending on which prefecture their chef comes from etc...So maybe comparing to Sendai might be unfair because both are the real thing.).

I guess the Japanese woman ate there because the rice is Ok, compared to other restaurants, and the meals are simple and healthy.

Would I go back to Yonehachi again? *nodding* Probably.

The Okowa at Sendai was so good and memorable, I would return there just to eat again a packet of it. I miss it so much and think of it all the time.

As for the Itallian Gelato across from Yonehachi, that is a temporary stall, I think. We got to try the flavors first, and chose the Raspberry Cheesecake a scoop (in a cup) for $3.80 (less than what other such ice-cream counters are selling for.).

Very delicious, creamy and smooth ice-cream. You get to choose cup or cone.

Beside it was an interesting Taiwan machine that shoots out popcorn-style flat crispy pancakes. Costs $3.80 per packet for original or butter flavor (3 packets for $10). We bought the original that the young guy let us sample.

When hot, the crispness is very nice, melts in your mouth, airy. But in the packet (pre-packed in Taiwan or Taka? Saw him packing fresh ones in a packet.) after bringing home, it's not as delicious.

Back to Japanese rice, for authentic Japanese meals, try Don in the basement of Liang Court, just across from Meidi-ya supermarket.

I don't know about the quality now, because since the 2 Japanese men stopped cooking the meals, I stopped going there. The meals are now all prepared by local/foreign girls.

Back when I ate there some time back, the rice was really 100% Japanese flavor and taste. That accounts for the Japanese men eating there.

I still see a few Japanese men there, I think. So, I guess the rice is still as good.

But always, when I ate there, the rice was never enough (especially when it's so good).

Bro and I had the privilege of getting to know the Japanese man there who cooked for us, back when he was still there. I felt their rice was so good that I had to compliment him by saying "Oishii". :)

I only know a few Japanese words, but he knew some English, so that's how we could say something to each other. Also, he was a very nice and friendly guy.

When I told him I have been to Japan, his eyes lit up with his smile. He asked where, then he said he's from Okinawa.

During our dining there, he also told me the secret to why their rice tasted so good. I tried it at home, but could not replicate it. When I told him, he was puzzled. I said, maybe I need to get your type of rice cooker. Hahaha....

But he shook his head saying it wasn't the rice cooker. Hmm... (but I think the correct rice cooker is important. They are using the big types that give better overall heating, compared to the small home-style type, I think).

He would also give us little gifts now and then. We would be eating and all of a sudden, he would lean over the counter and give us 2 individually wrapped jelly desserts.

The last time, he gave us 2 packets of red bean rice topping for the rice cooker, and said it was for celebrating our SG National Day. Hahaha... He said this red bean topping is used in Okinawa/Japan for celebration (I forget if he said Okinawa or Japan)

What a nice man.

Once, he pointed out his wife to us. She was shopping with the kids and she came over. I didn't see her but bro seemed to have, although she was already walking away.

But too bad, we never saw him again. Probably went back to Japan, we'll never know. His position was taken over by another Japanese man who wore a baseball cap (like our Japanese guy), but wasn't friendly at all and sniffed all the time like he had flu.

We ate there another once or twice, then stopped.

I was quite displeased he never said he was going to leave or leaving soon when he gave us those 2 red bean packets. Shortly after that, he wasn't there anymore. I told bro that at least, he could have just mentioned it.... *pouts* (though of course, he had no obligation to). It just would have been nice to at least say goodbye.

For a while after that, I thought maybe I could go to Okinawa and who knows, maybe bump into him there (that's if he went back there and was not still in SG in some other outlet or restaurant).

He never said his name.

(A new Japanese restaurant will be opening on 1 Dec at Liang Court basement and I'm wanting to try).

Update: Bro just mentioned something I hadn't thought about. He said the reason why Yonehachi's Okowa doesn't taste as nice as what I had in Japan, is because Yonehachi could be using ingredients not from Japan (but from China which is cheaper). Ah ha! I see.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Proud of This Girl


On Yahoo news--besides the China guy who made an ipad replica from scratch for his girlfriend (that I'm sure China people are going to rave about how great they are now)--is this more important and thumbs up Kansas City teenager, Emma Sullivan, who Twittered a negative comment about her governor and refuses to apologize. 

That's the way to go! This is what I mean with regards to recent SG people being forced to retract their comments on personal blogs, social sites such as Facebook and even in an own memoir. 

This girl says to apologize would be insincere. Therefore, she refuses. Only 18 years old and already knows this. I applaud her and her mom for bringing her up to be such a fine example. 

While her mom acknowledges that her daughter could have "chosen different words", she also notes that the language is the lingo of teenagers talking among friends. More importantly, the mom supports her daughter's decision:

"I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers. If she wants to tweet her opinion about Gov. Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her.".

She's a very lucky kid to have such a mom. 

Even with scolding from her principal who "instructed" her to write a letter of apology and even "offered talking points for how the letter should be written", the girl has stood by her words. 

A principle behaving in such a way. I bet if possible, the principal would lick the governor's shoes to polish it and write the letter of apology himself.

In the update at the end of the news, it says the governor has apologized to the girl. "My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize.  Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.". 

Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms. How nice to hear. How wonderful it is.

This girl is lucky to be able to voice her political opinion honestly without any harm, and even receive an apology from the governor. Whether there will be any future negative consequences later is left to be seen. But for now and perhaps for the future, her voice and strength may prove to be something.

Who knows, maybe she will be the next governor. :)

There is a Chinese proverb: 君子一言, 四马难追. 
Translation: Once a gentleman has spoken, even a four-horse chariot cannot chase up. 
Meaning: Gentleman's Word of Honor = Once you have spoken, you cannot retract it, must stand by what you said.

News: Cheapest Flea Market For Stall Holders In Singapore!

$50, $70, $120 just to set up stall? No more!

For first-timer flea sellers, you can tell it's their first time: bright eyes seeing dollar signs, fresh and lively. They will ask if the clothes rack you are renting or selling can be dismantled and assembled (not knowing that clothing racks these days are sold in boxes, so of course they can be dismantled and assembled).

After paying first for a stall, and renting or buying a clothing rack, and finally making their way to the spot with all their heavy stuff...

They don't find the path paved with gold they can peel or riches they can pick.

The only people making money off of fleas, are the Flea Organizers! How wonderful to collect all that cash even before the event starts. Sure they do promotion for you. Where? In free online websites like Facebook and Twitter. Wow... how smart.

Do the maths: if a stall costs $70 to rent, and this is an average amount that's usually charged, how much profit can you possibly make by selling your item/s? You think your items will sell flying off your racks and tabletops?


What "shoppers" do at fleas, if they actually bother coming through, is:

1) Look
2) Touch and walk away
3) Ask how much and walk away, not even bothering to bargain
4) Bargain, even if it's already very cheap (might as well, ask for free).

Fact is, these "customers" are just there out of curiosity. If they wanted to buy and had money, they would buy from real shops, not fleas.

Those who buy don't really need or want what you are selling. So, they can just stroll away from you if the price isn't as low as they like. It is in their favor if you are desperate to sell.

Or, they don't have money on them or didn't bring enough money. Either way, you don't make money.

Well, now, all stall holders can rent a stall on an hourly basis! Stay from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m,  or set up your stall and leave anytime you like! Just pay for the hours you are there!

An innovative system designed by TechShopBoys allows stall holders to own a stall that opens only upon payment into a patented money machine at its side. Starting price to open shop is just $10 for the first hour!

Once that hour is up, the stall folds itself shut (with your items still in it if they are not removed)! To re-open, just add $6 for the next hour! The hours after the second till you close, are charged at just $3 per hour!

Go to the restroom or catch a snack with a break in the hours, with your items safely locked! No need to ask or beg a friend to tag along, or ask other stall holders to look after your stall while you are gone.

Should your items be locked in and you don't wish to pay (or play) anymore, just call the number sticker-ed on your stall, provide some details for verification, and they will have the shop re-open for you to retrieve your stuff within 10 minutes.

The first 15 TechShopBoys stalls will begin operation at an as yet undisclosed shopping mall in March of next year 2012.

With the launch, "We hope the current system of fleas will be a thing of the past", says Joshua Ong, managing director of TechShopBoys.

"Our system is designed to help stall holders make some real profit as entrepreneurs. At the current rate for fleas at $70 or $80 per day, or even more depending on the organizer, if a stall holder marks up $5 per item, he or she would need to sell at least 14 or 16 items that day. You would need to be selling very popular items to meet this number and beyond, to see any profit. With our stalls, if you spend just 4 hours, it's only $22. A much lesser cost to cover and increases your chances at profit.".

But can just about anything be sold at these stalls?

"While we encourage almost anything, from clothing to cosmetics to toys or snacks, we do have to keep to what's allowed by the malls and authorities.", says Joshua.

The group of five Singaporeans, headed by their managing director, hopes to expand their idea and stalls throughout Asia and possibly farther afield. For now, their goal is simply, "To help local stall holders make some real money from their efforts, be it selling secondhand or brand new.".

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Aunties of Singapore

Aunties of Singapore (first posted in Fridae blog).
2011-11-24 18:25

Time of this posting: 10.55 p.m.

The heading timing is when I started a sentence and saved it as a draft because going out to dinner.


5 p.m. Didn't jog much and was about to go uphill when saw sky was very dark, threatening thunder. So, didn't go up and decided to do just another round of a path.

Started to drizzle, but thought it would be Ok. But while jogging up slope, just before finish, started to rain heavier, wetting everything.

So. Ended up running in the rain, then walked back home.

At the void deck, saw the lift was about to open its door. A woman was already waiting there. So, I ran for it.

She asked in English, "What floor?".

I said, "Third, thanks.". But pressed the button myself. Usually, I press it myself, don't wanna trouble the other person.

She had already pressed 5th, I think, the button above mine. (Didn't know what button she pressed until I looked again after coming back from dinner just now.).

Till now, I didn't really look at her.

She stood behind me on my right, and I knew she must be looking at my wet clothes and hair. I was in my grey T and white 3/4 shorts. Totally soaked, though my white jogging shoes were still Ok. So, actually, the rain wasn't that big. I've come home in heavier rain than this.

I ran my left hand up through my short wet hair, feeling a little surprised by the soft smoothness, and heard her say in Chinese, "Hui jia gan kuai chong liang. Hui gan mao.". (Go home quick take a bath. Will catch cold.).

I was thinking why she suddenly changed to speaking Chinese (I look like China, is it? Or maybe she could see I was Singaporean who would understand both languages?).

I turned sideways to look at her. It was an auntie in a green polo T with three yellow initials on its left. The uniform and initials looked familiar. Think she works at the food court downstairs.

She was grimacing at my wet clothes (I assume, or down at my legs), staring without looking up while I looked at her face. I don't quite recall her face...though she looked a little familiar.

(Ahh.. now I think about it while typing this... she works at Vivo Giant?? But...the initials on her polo T... didn't seem to have the word "giant", unless maybe I didn't see clearly and thought it said "y another letter s"?).

"Mm." I agreed, thinking of saying thanks but didn't.

Instead, by way of thanks, I said, "Yes, it rained suddenly.". (which wasn't entirely true since the sky gave prior warning before and during my jog).

She replied in Chinese, "Yes, it's year-end" (in an "of course" tone). Still, not looking at me directly. Strange woman. Maybe, she realized I'm not a kid as she thought?

(Now I think, she was shy that I might recognize her from her cashier role at Giant supermarket.).

The lift arrived, and I got out feeling quite warmed by that auntie. What nice aunties Singapore has. They always sound like mom. They are what makes Singapore special and feel like home.

Aunties, whether in Japan or Singapore, have always been motherly to me. Maybe I look like their daughter--young, harmless and don't know anything.

I smile now, thinking of them.

Aunties are very cute. Singapore aunties can say the funniest things among themselves, or out of good intentions. They have good intentions when they talk to me all of a sudden, sometimes at the supermarket.

They also sometimes do puzzling things. :)

But in general, Singapore aunties are cute.

Dad doesn't like them because he said they hog up small spaces and like to push people. Yes, those are aunties' bad habits.

He told me, once he got so mad with an auntie, he scolded her for pushing him while getting off a bus.

The other bad habit of aunties, is they like to rush for buses.

But we are not here to talk bad things about aunties. :) This piece is about nice aunties in Singapore.

If aunties have also been nice to you, tell us your experience here.

It's because of nice aunties in Japan, that make me miss them and Japan. Their help has been a lot, without which, my journey would have been less enjoyable and more difficult looking for the places I wanted to see.

To all nice aunties on this wet cold night, I wish you happiness and smiles, and that your children treat you well.

Thank you, to all nice aunties. :)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

I'm A Little Teapot...

9.35 p.m.

My head was singing this song tonight. No reason why. I sang, "I'm a little teapot, short and stout...". That's all I remember of the lyrics.

While it's a little disagreeable to sing "short and stout" since I am not, I still like this song quite much and always think of it.

It was taught to me ... many many years ago. Probably from a nursery tape that mom used to play. From it, I learnt many rhymes.

Another one is ... pitch porridge hot, pitch porridge cold, pitch porridge in the pot nine days old. When I first sang it, my bro was very amused, laughed and thought I made it up. I said it's a legit nursery rhyme that I learnt when young. Didn't make it up.

Checking online now... it is "pease" not "pitch". What the heck is "pease"?

Other sites refer to it as "Peas". Can't seem to find the same version that I heard. It was a fast version without the voice going up or down for "some like it hot", "some like it cold".

When I first heard it and sang it, I always wondered how a 9-days old porridge could still be eaten. Cold porridge even a few minutes/hours cold gives air to the stomach. Can also cause food poisoning.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Mm... *sighs* This song... listening to it, makes me tingle with goosebumps. Beautiful lyrics.

Oi... how come stop suddenly at the end?

Mm.. this song is accompanied by a beautiful dance between... a ghost and a woman in the movie "Always".

How to Look Like a Vampire Directly After Feeding

Powder your face white. If your face is naturally fair/white, that's fine.

Cut a red-fleshed Dragonfruit into half, then half of each half. You can buy from Meidi-ya supermarket for $2~3.

Peel away the skin with your fingers.

Hold the cut Dragonfruit flesh, eat.

Look in the mirror after you have finished.