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Saturday, January 30, 2016

2016 CNY Festive Street Bazaar @ Chinatown

Chinese Year Year is our favourite holiday and our family's annual tradition to celebrate the festival begins with taking a walk through Chinatown. The crowd never seems to deter us from going year after year. With our kiddos getting older, I am hoping this family tradition continues and maybe it will be our children's turn to bring us for a walk.


Our family wefie in front of Year of the Monkey lantern centerpiece, featuring little monkeys hanging around a large peach tree. It is a shame the monkeys appear a little too small and we could not get a closer shot.


The Chinese New Year Festive Street Bazaar at Chinatown is the best place to feel the spirit of the festive season. We were blessed with a breezy evening and it was a pleasure taking our time browsing through the street stalls, sampling mouth-watering cny goodies and looking out for more cny decorative items for our home.



When there is food, there will always be a crowd. Every year, we noticed the human traffic is the heaviest where there is free sampling of Taiwanese fruit jelly. Denver & Gladys never fails to grab some free jelly to snack along the way.




I found it amusing when our girl noticed the banner indicating Free Wi-Fi at Chinatown and quickly inform her brother. Seems like the availability of Wi-Fi perks their interest even though we were trying to make our way through the crowd!


If you have some time, do drop by Chinatown Heritage Centre. We had some interesting reads about how different dialect group (Cantonese, Teochew and Hokkien) celebrate Chinese New Year. Alternatively, you can also go for their Multimedia guided tour where you can explore the galleries or Character guided tour to learn about iconic Chinatown characters through their personal stores. Admission tickets applies - more information at http://chinatownheritagecentre.com.sg



Chinatown Festive Street Bazaar will continue from now till 7th February 2016, spreading across Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street. Do not miss the annual festive bazaar sale as we welcome the Year of the Monkey!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chinese New Year Happenings in Johor Bahru (新山年货城)

We drove in to Johor Bahru last weekend and headed down to the streets in search of Chinese New Year markets and also to complete our CNY shopping before welcoming the Year of the Monkey. Here's a list of where you can explore if you are planning to travel down and experience the festival across the border.

1) 年货城 - Johor Jaya

Address: Jalan Dedap 14, Taman Johor Jaya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Located in the heart of Taman Johor Jaya, there are about 40 stalls selling assorted Chinese New Year goodies. hampers and ornaments. It would be nice if the scale is as big as the weekly pasar malam.


Lots of varieties packaged at an attractive price.


If you like to shop for more, take a 5-10 minutes drive down to AEON Tebrau City and shop to your heart contents. Fashion, kitchenware, CNY decorations, food and more are all under one roof.


2) 金猴迎春百万镇年货城 (Permas Jaya)

Address:  Jln Permas 10/1, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor, Malaysia

The CNY market at Permas Jaya is located at the open field along Jln Permas 10/1, but we were disappointed to see the lack of stalls in operation. Business seems bleak and there are only a couple of audience in front of the stage. Thankfully there are many eateries nearby where we can stop by for supper. Moonlight Cake House is also located across the street and we bought some pineapple tarts back home. As a bonus, AEON Permas Jaya (5 minutes walk away) also extended its opening hours till 11pm and we were able to make more purchase.



3) 金猴进宝大盛年 - Sutera Mall

Date: 7 Jan - 28 Feb 2016
Address: 1 Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/4, Taman Sutera Utama, 81300, Skudai, Johor, Malaysia
Website: http://www.suteramall.com/

Sutera Mall - One of my favourite spot for Chinese New Year shopping. Lots of stalls setup at the atrium where you can grab your goodies. The hampers on sale are really going on an attractive price but do be cautious when it is packaged with wine which is a little troublesome to go through via the customs. Meanwhile, our children get to play at the arcade, visit the library, stock up their stationery at Popular bookstore while Mommy pamper her feet with pedicure and window shop.


4) 金猴献瑞年货城 - KSL City

Date: 20 Jan - 7 Feb 2016
Address: 33, Jalan Seladang, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Website: http://www.kslcity.com.my/

KSL City has always been a shopping paradise for Singaporeans. Locals swamp in to groom themselves (facial, manicure, pedicure, hair styling) apart from shopping and dining. Hubby got his massage which he very much needed while I continue with my shopping. The Chinese New Year stalls setup at the ground floor atrium is very much similar to those at Sutera Mall. Hence, if you are a little tight of time, you can choose to visit either malls for your shopping trip.



5) Blossom in the City (花满门庭) - City Square (JB)

Date: 7 Jan - 6 Feb 2016
Address: 108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Website: http://www.citysqjb.com/


We did not have time to drop by City Square (JB) but this is another popular mall frequently visited by Singaporeans as well. Stalls selling assorted CNY goodies are setup at the atrium and you can complete your shopping needs under one roof.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was a fruitful trip even though we were disappointed with the scale of the CNY street markets. Nevertheless, I pretty much enjoyed shopping at the malls, but would look forward to the appearance of more outdoor mobile stall vendors. Given the opportunity, we would also like to see and experience some fireworks in action too.

Two more weeks before we bid farewell to Golden Goat and welcome the Monkey King. Here's wishing everyone - 恭喜发财, 财源广进, 猴年好運來 in advance!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Red Paper Cutting Craft for Year of the Monkey

Every year, I will try to do some Chinese New Year craft to decorate our home. Not only it brings out the festive cheer, it is also more economical and I have greater satisfaction looking at the crafts that I made for the family.

As the Year of the Monkey approaches, I decided to challenge myself and do something different apart from the Red Packet ornaments which I have made the previous year. This time, I tried to do paper cutting. It was an impromptu idea and I do not have the proper cutting equipment. I googled on the internet for a simple Monkey cut-out design and print it out as a template. Stapler the template on a piece of red coloured paper, and I used a pen-knife to cut out the design.

It was a delicate and challenging task as my pen-knife was too big to carve out the smaller parts. I took 20 minutes for my first Monkey paper cut-out. Looked a little rough on the edges but still presentable from afar.
 

With the experience I gathered from my first attempt, I was able to control the pen knife better and decided to go for a tougher design. I picked a design of a monkey holding a peach and stepping on a golden ingot. There are more details within and it took me 45 minutes to complete the cutting.


The twin monkeys paper cut out look pretty nice on the white wall and I can't wait to put them up! 

I googled further on more paper cut-outs and chanced upon a video teaching how to cut symmetrical patterns. (Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHepfO73ye4). Based on the concept of symmetry and with reference to other cut out design on the websites, I drew my pattern on the red folded paper and successfully cut out a Monkey design! The entire process is not easy but the satisfaction is tremendous.


If you like to make some CNY ornaments to brighten your home, you may wish to give paper cut out a try!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

You Kee XO Restaurant (有记XO烧腊之家)

You Kee XO Restaurant - has recently opened a new outlet at KSL City Mall last December. Did a little research on 有记XO and found out that apart from its signature meat dishes, it is also famous for its herbal soup. For those who knows us well, we love roasted meat and definitely not giving this a miss since it is located at one of our favourite shopping malls in Johor Bahru.


It was really crowded but we were lucky to find seats rather quickly. Lots of items on the menu, including xo roast meat, local kampung dish, rice set, noodles, set menus etc.


We ordered You Kee XO Signature BBQ/Roast selection which consist of a combination of XO Signature Roasted Duck - RM10.50, Crystal BBQ Pork Belly (Char Siu) - RM10.50, Roasted Pork Belly "Siu Yuk" - RM9.30 and BBQ Pork Sausage "Hong Kong" style - RM10.50. The display of the meat is so appealing and appetizing that were a little hesitant to pick.


Its easy to tell which is our favourite by seeing which one gets clean out from the plate first. Our vote goes to the Crystal BBQ Pork Belly - Char Siu! It is incredibly delicious, juicy, tender and sweet! One of the best that I have tasted to date and the children love it!

Surprisingly, our favourite Roasted Pork Belly has to sit on the second place losing out to the Char Siu this time round. Nevertheless, the crispy skin and tender meat still won our hearts.

Even though I don't fancy duck meat, You Kee's roasted duck is pretty delectable with its thin layer of skin and juicy tender meat. The Hong Kong style BBQ Pork Sausage is also welcoming among children but I would give this a miss and go for the char siu next time instead.


We also tried their Homemade Signature Bean Curd (火山豆腐) - RM11.60 which was served pipping hot to our table. Toufu is soft and smooth. Sweet savory gravy within to go with the silky toufu - a hearty family dish for all to share.


Our total bill was RM59.20 (~SGD20) including 4 bowls of rice and no drinks was ordered. Overall experience at You Kee has been pleasant and we would love to come back and try out their soup next time.


有记XO烧腊之家
Address: LG-33, KSL City Johor Bahru, 33, Jalan Seladang, Taman Abad, 80250, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hong Kong Street Restaurant - 香港街尖沙咀 (Taman Sutera Utama)

Taman Sutera Utama is one of our favourite spot in Johor Bahru as it is surrounded by cafes, restaurants and eateries. Whenever we feel like grabbing a bite or drink, we are spoilt with the wide variety of choices. From Western, Chinese to Korean and Japanese cuisine, there is definitely something that fits our bill.

Hong Kong Street Restaurant (香港街尖沙咀) was recommended to us by the locals during one of our staycation. Like Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe in Singapore, they offer sandwiches, noodles, rice and western selection of dishes on their menu, at a very affordable price.


Food always entices the children and they enjoy reading from the menu to pick their order. After following us on our family food hunt, they also become more adventurous in trying out new food. Good for their exposure but greater damage on our pockets.

To start off, the kids picked the restaurant's signature drink - 招牌冰镇奶茶 (Signature Milk Tea) and 茶咖共舞 (Tea and Coffee Dance)

Our boy enjoying his bottle of Milk Tea which continues to stay chill even after our meal.

I was surprised Gladys actually picked "Tea & Coffee Dance" which is actually "Yuan Yang". What's special in this drink is the cup of coffee is served frozen. When the chilling tea is poured into the coffee cube, it gradually melts the coffee and you can sip the mixture of tea and coffee.

While the children enjoy their chilling drinks, hubby and I decided to stick to our warm cup of milk tea and yuan yang.

There is a good selection of food on the menu which is suitable for family and a group of friends who intends to dine at 香港街尖沙咀 for brunch, lunch, tea and dinner.

Hubby has a preference for noodles and goes for Bee Hoon in Papaya Soup with Mushroom. Lots of ingredients within the bowl and the clear broth is sweet, fragrant and not too oily.

Denver and I are rice lovers and we go for the restaurant's Fu Qi Fan (福气饭). The rice set includes curry fish ball, a bowl of soup and green tea pudding to complete the meal for a value price of RM11.80 (~SGD 4).


Gladys wasn't feeling very hungry and preferred to snack a little. Hence, she ordered Company Sandwich (公司三文治) to satisfy her tummy.

Overall, we had a pleasant dining experience at 香港街尖沙咀. Staff was friendly and helpful but most importantly, we enjoyed comfort food at a very affordable price. Will love to be back again for another meal!

Hong Kong Street Restaurant (香港街尖沙咀)

Address: No. 108, Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/3, Taman Sutera Utama, 81300, Skudai, Johor

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Canon's New Office Tour at Fusionpolis Galaxis + Food Styling Session

December was a month of feasting, celebrations and holidays. During the festive season, we were invited to visit Canon's new office at Fusionpolis Place - Galaxis (West Lobby). Together with other Singapore Parent Bloggers, we had a quick tour around the new office and a sumptuous Christmas buffet dinner while picking up some tips on food styling.


Am impressed with the new office which is much bigger in size. 

Apart from the training room, there is also a Photo Studio! For aspiring photographer who wish to try out studio photography but does not have the equipment/setup, you can book and rent the studio! For more information - check out Canon Website.


After the tour, we sat in for some Food Styling Photography tips. I was a little surprise when our cheeky girl stood on the platform, only to realize later that she attempted to role-play as the instructor which made us laugh.



Canon imaging Academy instructor - Nugene Chiang gave us a lot of food styling tips which is very helpful particularly when we are taking food photography during our food hunting trips.

Some takeaways:
- Use white plates when in doubt
- Use garnish to add colour and fill up space
- Make small adjustments every time
- Style according to ethnicity to set the mood
- Try textured surface & colourful backgrounds

Most importantly, have fun!


We love to go for buffet and it is challenging to take a nice shot of the food left on the tray which is not as glamorous. Nugene demonstrated how he plans and takes the food in smaller portion on his plate. The entire process did not take long which allows us to enjoy the food without spending too much time on photo-taking.


Lighting has to be taken into consideration as well. Look at the Pro at work! Both hands are fully occupied. :)

Here are some of the snapshots of my food styling works at the buffet line using my Samsung Note 5. What do you think?



Garnish is important in food styling which helps to add in more colours.

Colourful shot of the fruits. 


Have been taking photos with my mobile device for some years and am hoping to get my hands on one of the cameras some day (if budget permits or a birthday present? wink wink). ^_^

Interested to learn or pick up some photography skills?

More information about Canon Imaging Academy and the workshops they run can be found at http://www.canon.com.sg/training/

Friday, January 8, 2016

Prince33 Hotel @ Taman Mount Austin

There are a couple of boutique hotels around Taman Mount Austin and we would like to introduce one that is walking distance to Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park, a few minutes drive to AEON Tebrau City, Tesco, Kuso Trick Art and Austin Heights Golf and Country Resort, and surrounded by renowned cafes and eateries - Prince33 Hotel.


The boutique hotel is pretty new since it's opening mid last year. We got to know about Prince33 when we were exploring the new theme park. It's strategic location, room types and affordable accommodation attracted us to stay for a night.


Lobby area is bright and spacious. Couches are available for guests to rest while waiting. 

Our kiddos were quick to spot the computer stations. I strongly believe they would grab every opportunity for a quick game or two in between breaks and waiting time.

Access to the lift lobby is via card access which helps to prevent non-hotel guests from going to the rooms freely.


We are pleased with Prince33's Family Suite which offers 2 King Bedding at a price of RM178 per night. The bigger beds allow us to have a good night rest without much argument. In addition, there is ample walking space within the room and connecting room to another Family Suite which is perfect for bigger family clusters.



Shower/Toilet is spacious and clean. Basic bathroom amenities are also available. The only issue we encountered was the ponding of water within the shower room as the water was not able to drain down fast enough.


In terms of security, we noticed a police guarding post outside the entrance of Prince33 Hotel, that would primarily be the security to oversee our vehicle during our stay. No specific carpark lot was reserved for guests but, for now, there are ample parking lots available.

If you are keen on exploring Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park and try out the good food around the area, Prince33 Hotel would be one consideration on your list for your next staycation.

Summary Notes:
Room
- Free Wifi
- Air-condition
- Window view - depends on room type
- Flooring - Tiled
- Water Flask - available
- Safety Box - not available
- Hair Dryer - not available
- Phone - available
- Mini Fridge - not available

Toilet/Shower
- Bath towels are provided
- Combined Toilet and Shower room
- Water Heater available.
- Disposable toothbrush/toothpaste provided

Parking & Security
- Parking lot - available.
- Police guarding post outside of Hotel

Prince33 Hotel
Address: 2,6,8, Jalan Austin Heights 8/2, Taman Mount Austin, 81100, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
GPS: 1.561273, 103.776679

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