About orionstar

Easily amused, easily interested, easily bored. Always looking out for new experiences..The world is so vast...

TGIF Junk: Oven and Fried Chicken

After a long and stressful week at work, sometimes we just want to sink our teeth into calorie-laden, artery-clogging junk food. A favourite would be deep-fried chicken, among other sinful junk like truffle-fries, spam fries and rich desserts. I dunno how stuffing our faces with such junk food can help de-stress. Guess the thought of letting ourselves go with such indulgences, provided the food in question has to be tasty as well, has a certain liberating effect. Ah nom nom nom nom nom munch munch munch…

So a couple of fridays ago, my friend BB suggested having our junk food fix with Korean fried chicken at “Oven & Fried Chicken” (182 Telok Ayer Street). Quite a strange name. It’s not “oven-fried”, with a dash in between, but “oven & fried”.. Don’t quite make sense leh… Anyways, I didn’t check online for the origin of the name so I supposed there are reasons for it.

Since a few years ago, there has been a lot of hype with Korean fried chicken. Had recalled it started with “BBQ Chicken” which uses olive oil to deep-fry their chicken and then there’s “Bonchon”, “Kko Kko Na Ra” and so on. I don’t quite get the hype. It’s just fried chicken right? Probably because the eatery/brand originates from Korea, same place as where those popular celebrities are from, so it must be good? Oh dear, if you really think that way. Hmm..

Probably that is also why these chicken tend to sell at higher prices, since there is a demand for them from the likes of people obsessed with anything Korean. Anyway, Korean or not, fried chicken to me is, as I had said, chicken dunked in hot oil till it turned crispy. If it is good, that’s all it matters.

At “Oven & Fried Chicken”, there are other non-chicken dishes on the menu. But since it is only 2 of us, we had decided to stick to the chicken. Since we are ready to gorge ourselves with junk food, let’s go all the way and order 2 servings of chicken wings in different flavours.

The “Fried Rice Chicken” was served first. Half a portion, which is around 5 whole chicken wings separated at the joints, is priced at $19. Woah…

These chicken wings are coated in rice flour and other spices, and deep-fried. Teeth sinking into the crunchy and crispy batter, releasing bits of oil… The initial bites were indeed satisfying. By the time, I got to my 3rd wing or drumlet, I was feeling a little queasy from too much flour and oil. As much as I had enjoyed the fried chicken, there is only so much I can take.

We had also ordered the “Sauced Rice Chicken (original)” at $20 for half portion. Double woah.

It seems like sauce-coated fried chicken is a distinctive cooking style of Korean fried chicken. The sauce is sweet and savoury, and super spicy! OMG! I can feel my lips burning, face flushed and stomach getting hotter by the second. I can’t make it past 2 wings. I need to dunk my tongue in a bucket of ice!! Hot hot hot!!

My friend can’t stomach too much of those spicy wings too and I end up packing them back for Gary. He sure has a higher tolerance for spice. I saw him wipe out those wings with gusto. LOL…

My verdict on these Korean fried chicken: They are good but so not worth the price. Take the Old Chang Kee fried chicken wings for example. They are one of my favourite and cost only less than half the price.  So I say, can try Korean fried chicken once in a while but they are really over-hyped lah. :)

Give Blood part 2

Last Dec, I had donated blood for the first time. Like many others, the thought of a thick needle jamming into my vein is very unnerving. But knowing that my blood might help save a life, I’d decided to put away my fears and go for it. Of course, going with a few colleagues had helped boost my courage a little. Afterall, there is strength in numbers right?

I don’t know about others but I didn’t find the process painful at all. There might be a very slight but bearable discomfort when the anesthetic was injected but once the elbow area of your arm is numb, there is really not much feeling when they injected the larger needle to draw your blood.

Last Fri was the next run of the blood donation drive and I was the first one there! Ok, I admit there’s a selfish reason to it. I’ll be joining some colleagues for drinks at night. When it comes to drinking alcohol after donating blood, a couple of websites had stated slightly differing views. Some state it’s best to give a 24 hour buffer, while another state 6 hour and so on. I asked the nurse attending to me at the blood donation centre and she confirmed it’s perfectly alright.

For me, the main reason for donating blood stems from altruistic reasons. I think it is a good cause and it doesn’t harm me in any way. Had tried to convince my colleagues in the division but quite a number claimed needles leave them squirmish despite my assurance that it really doesn’t hurt much. For some, it’s not so much the pain but the thought of a needle in them. It’s all in the mind. And that is the hardest to change. But it’s ok. That’s their choice. There are other pain-less and less “scary” ways to do good to the society.

There are also other benefits of donating blood. Google these key words and you get a gozillion websites highlighting the benefits.

Common ones include better flow of the blood hence regular blood donors run a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, regulating iron levels in the blood as too much iron is bad for your blood vessels etc…

And my favourite (for now)- Donating a pint of blood burns around 650 kcal as your body works to replenish the blood that was lost. Of course, this shouldn’t be the main way to manage your weight since you should leave around a 3-month window before your next blood donation. It’s just nice to know that there is this additional calories being burnt off just like that. Hee…

The thought of saving lives is a very meaningful motivation to donate blood. The other benefits are really “bonuses” that come with this act.

Steamed Radish Cake

I love a good chunk of delicious steamed radish cake with chock full of ingredients and best served warm with a side of savoury sambal chilli or XO sauce. 2 weekends ago, my good friend, H, made a big tin of radish cake and that had inspired me to try a hand at it too.

In fact, some years ago, I had attempted to make this dish but had failed miserably. On hindsight, I must have added too much liquid and the texture was more congee-like than cake. Yikes.

This time round, I had searched for a few more recipes. Found one from H last year. This year, it seems she had tried a different method but I had observed the steps leading to the finished product when I’m at her kitchen 2 weekends ago. Eventually, I had settled for this recipe by “Momma Kitchen”, which I had followed quite closely, but with some amount of guesstimation. Sometimes, that’s the fun of cooking.

While stir-frying the radish together with the other ingredients, I had also added in around 3/4 cup of chicken stock, to prevent the ingredients from drying out. Do add the stock gradually as needed.

Processing the radish is akin to a good arm work-out. The grating part (doesn’t help that I am using a small grater) and the stir-frying/mixing of the flour (mixed with radish water) into the mass of grated radish and other ingredients had worked me (and my right arm, of course) into a sweat!

I am not sure if the heat should be turned on while mixing the flour mixture with the radish and all. Some recipes mentioned to turn the fire off. As an in between, I left the heat on but on low. Towards the last bit of the stirring, I’d turned it off. The final product should be a thick gooey glue-paste like texture.

After 40mins of steaming and about an hour of letting the cake set, it’s sampling time! With bated breath, I had sliced through the cake. Oh please don’t disintegrate or turned into a watery mess! The surface looks solid but who knows what’s inside…

Oh, I had added the fried shallots (store-bought ones) towards the last 10 mins of the steaming process. Love the aroma from these shallots!

Thankfully, the texture is fine and the taste is decent too. Next time, I would diced the mushrooms and Chinese sausages (lup cheong) a little finer.

I find that the cake texture is better set when left in the fridge overnight. To consume, can just microwave or pan-fry with egg. Well, this is the first trial after my failed attempt some years ago so I think it’s not too bad ya. Will try again the next time but will have to get a larger grater!

Happy 9th Wedding Anniversary to Us!

It seems like just yesterday that we got married. It’s 9 years now and next year, it will be the 10th. A decade of marriage is quite a feat eh. Not to mention having to accommodate my whims and fancies, and nonsensical requests (a good example coming up).

Our exact anniversary is coming Wed but I’d decided to give the hubby an early gift. It’s a lot easier to get gifts for him than him for me. No thanks to my general finicky nature. Comparatively, Gary’s taste are generally simpler. He doesn’t care much for brands or even designs. Clothes are just clothes. As long as they fit him and don’t look too outrageous, they are good enough. Best if it’s got something to do with his favourite EPL team, Liverpool. Having said that, I decided not to be predictable this year and get him (yet) another Liverpool or sports jersey.

Hence, I was thinking hard of what can I get him this year that he needs. Was just window shopping around until I come across this huge poster of popular Korean celebrity, Lee Min Ho, holding onto a dark blue laptop bag for the “Samsonite Red” label.

Ah yes!! A new laptop bag would be perfect. His current bag, a Samsonite replica, was given by a friend years ago and is looking a little worn down. The PVC parts are also fast stripping away. Contrary to his current rather bulky looking bag, this blue bag (which Lee Min Ho is holding) looks reasonably stylish and also functional from the numerous pockets and roomy interior.

So I got this bag and decided to “coerce” the hubby into THIS pose… LOL!!

For a laugh, I had posted in Facebook. Some of the comments were hilarious, including highlighting the similarities (“OMG, cannot see the differences!”, “Actually looks pretty close”). Hahaha… so funny…

In the evening, we had checked out “Torikin” (鸡金) at “Crown Centre” (557 Bukit Timah Road #01-14/16). Relatively a new kid on the block since it had just opened last Oct, but they have several branches in Japan. This area brings nostalgic memories for Gary as his secondary school and JC are nearby.

Last week, we had picked up the free “Oishi” magazine at Mediya supermarket. There were 3 nabemono (Japanese hotpot) restaurants featured in this issue. “Torikin” caught my eye just by the nature of their hotpot- “Mitzutaki”, i.e. a hotpot of fresh chicken and vegetables.

Oh yes, I love a hearty wholesome chicken soup that warms the stomach and the soul. Having tried and enjoyed “Tsukada Nojo” (love the soup but hate the crazy queues) and “Beauty in the Pot” (by the Paradise Group), “Torikin” had definitely piqued our interest.

Naturally, we will make some comparison with “Tsukada Nojo”. Price-wise, “Torikin” hotpot at $70 for 2 pax is more pricey than Tsukada’s $25 per pax. There are also more variety of other dishes including sashimi, sushi and others.

We had ordered the Hakata Tonpei-yaki, which is similar to Okonomiyaki, which is a mix of sliced pork and mainly shredded cabbage encased in an omelette topped with mayo and spring onions, and cooked as well as served on a sizzling hotplate. This tonpei-yaki is unlike the typical okonomiyakis that we had tried. For one, the cabbage was shredded very finely and the sauce (or spice?) used in the mixture is more savoury.

As we’re pretty famished, the tonpei-yaki was wiped out quite quickly.

Then came their signature fried chicken. The chicken is well-fried, except I don’t particularly like crispy fried chicken that is drenched in sauce. This makes the crispy bits a little soggy despite the delicious sauce.

Now comes their signature!

There is a process in consuming the “Mizutaki”. Oh, the wait staff will assist in this process and adding the ingredients in. Unlike “Tsukada” where a pot of pale yellow curds of collagen would simmer and “melt” into a state of thick broth, the “Torikin” soup is served as it is, and is milky in colour and less thick in consistency. According to their Facebook page, this collagen-rich soup is cooked for 7 hours using traditional cooking methods.

According to the menu:

1) Start with tasting the soup that is served in a small soba cup.

2) Next, eat the cooked chicken with their homemade ponzu sauce. Can also dip the chicken in the special Yuzu Pepper (looks like sambal but it’s actually a paste made from yuzu zest and chilli peppers).

3) While eating the chicken, the wait staff will add in the other ingredients- minced chicken (to be shaped into little balls) and the vegetables.

4) After everything had been consumed, the last stage involves adding in rice, egg and seaweed for a simple and yet flavourful pot of porridge.

Indeed, none of this nutritious soup will go to waste.

Overall, I find “Torikin” soup less salty. While I do enjoy the thick rich broth of Tsukada, I’d find myself gulping more water after that. The soup at “Beauty in the Pot” is somewhat in between.

After a very satisfying meal, we’d still have room for desserts at “2am: dessertbar” in Holland Village. I had truly screwed away my recent strict diet this weekend. But it’s alright cos it’s our 9th wedding anniversary!!

May we have many more years to come. That means, the hubby would have many more years to tahan my nonsense!! Yippee!! :)

初二 at the “River Hongbao 2015″

Happy Lunar New Year! This year is great. 4 back-to back days of a long weekend. CNY to me is a rather sedated affair. Other than visiting the temple and the mother-in-law on the first day, the rest of the days are just rest-and-relax days. I can only wish it could be longer. Yeah, wishful thinking.. As I am typing this, it’s already Sun afternoon. Reality is increasingly kicking in as the hour passes. I don’t want to think about tomorrow. Argh..

Had a lunch of plain oats today. Think I had put on 2 kg from the deviation from our salad lunch plus a little over indulgence over the past few days. I think some of that could be water retention lah. Any excuse just to make myself feel that this excess weight is only temporary.. haha… Thankfully, I don’t like those CNY tarts and bak kwa, otherwise that’s another 5kg more. Aiya, CNY is a time of feasting so it’s ok to let loose during this period and then watch the diet again after that lor…

2015 is the year of the sheep, goat or whatever of similar breed, judging from the different images in the CNY decor. Not forgetting the creative play of the names in the CNY greetings like “Meh ewe have a goat year” or something like that. Next year would be the year of the monkey. Wonder how creative one can get with words like “monkey” or erm, “chimp”, “ape”, “orangutan”…

Like many others who probably after a day of visiting or just hanging around, we visited the “River Hongbao 2015″ at The Float @ Marina Bay on Fri. Think it has been some years since we last visited the river hongbao, which I have very vague memories of so it must have been quite a while. Maybe even before MBS was built.

2015 is also a year which the nation celebrates 50 years of independence, hence the numerous “SG50″ logo around. Hence, this year’s river hongbao had also featured snapshots of how CNY was celebrated in past 50 years through a photo exhibition “Reliving the Past, Welcoming the New Year”. There is also a huge backdrop of iconic infrastructure such as the Merlion, MBS, Changi Airport, the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles (a British statesman known for the founding of Singapore in 1819) and so on.

Other iconic highlights include Singa the Courtesy Lion, F&N orange soda bottle, and the dragon and pelican structures from the playgrounds of the 70s and 80s. Most of these structures were gone now except for a rare few but I guess would soon be gone in time too.

We found our zodiac animals!

Let’s check out the “Singapore Favourite Food Street”…

It’s quite disappointing actually. There are a couple of repeated stalls and quite a few are selling commonly seen food sold in pasar malams like ginormous deep-fried chicken drumsticks, fried fishballs, sausages and other deep-fried junk, Ramly burgers, kebab etc. Even the so-call local food stalls selling fish slice soup, wanton noodles and chicken rice don’t look very impressive. Or it could be the large crowd, lots of jostling among sweaty bodies and long queues, had negatively distracted me away from the food.

We didn’t stay to watch any performances. There are just too many people around and I don’t like to stay in crowded places for too long. So we headed back to Marina Square for dinner and call it a day.

And now it’s the last day of the long weekend… sob sob… Anyway, CNY is 15 days so I guess more huat-ing for many others next weekend then! :)

Old School

Was hanging out at H’s home last weekend, enjoying a very satisfying meal of steamed king crab legs and sake. Am still thinking about those damn juicy and meaty crab legs… Had remembered that H mentioned she had kept our school year books. Mine are probably recycled into somebody else’s yearbooks. Dunno if it’s the crabs or sake but a wave of nostalgia led me to request for H to dig out these year books.

She has books from our secondary school years and a couple from our primary school era. The oldest dated back to 1982! I am still in kindergarten then. I flipped the 1992 one. That’s the year of our graduation. My hair was short then. So were majority of my school mates. A look which must not be repeated again…The school rules did not allow long hair but that had long been removed. Lucky kids today.

Lots of memories from my secondary school years. Made great friends, including H who was my class partner in secondary 4, whom we had still kept in touch today. Remembered the simple days of just hanging around at the Macs next to Hougang interchange or wherever we could get our asses on. No smart phones, laptops, internet. Just good old chats and laughs. Great times. Not so great would be the stress and cramming for exams especially the crucial “O” Levels. Having consistently shitty grades for Science and Maths, even up till 2 months before the prelim exams, jolt me into seriously get my act together and buck up.

Then I flipped the 1984 yearbook. Was in primary 2 then. What really got me excited was these pictures of the old school building at Boundary Road before we moved to the new buildings (one for primary and the other for secondary) at Lorong Ah Soo where they’d still stand today.

The image below shows the main school building which housed the staff room, admin office, science lab, some class rooms and the school hall at the second floor. Think the home econs room was at the second floor too, at the corner of the school hall. Yup, my memory for such details is that good. Haha… Maybe with some variation lah.

As far as my memory can stretch, I was reminded of this silly game during primary 3. It was right after our exams, 2 or 3 of my classmates and myself were so bored out of our minds that we’d actually devised an exploration game of sorts. We had convinced ourselves that there was some “mystery” behind the stage at the hall and we should “investigate” what that was. Crazy much?

Here’s a run-down of our insane plan…

Classes were in the afternoon session so shortly before assembly, we would gather at the back of the school hall, near the stage area. At that time, think the sec 4 students were having their “O” Levels. Had recalled there were rows of students, heads down and furiously scribbling. Ooh, that makes the game more exciting! Cos we had to dodge the eyes of the invigilators and the students, which I doubt they would look up as they were battling against time and avoiding a black-out while the answers were still fresh in their heads, to run from one end of the stage to the other. The strategy was to make sure no one was looking, dashed to the centre of the stage and hide behind the lectern, checked again and run to the other side.

The back of the stage was just dusty and filled with old props and shit. There was no mystery. We were just bored and needed some excitement. If we were caught running across the stage, I suspect we would just be reprimanded and probably sent to detention. No biggie. After about 3 or 4 such nonsensical dashes across the stage, we realised that this “game” wasn’t fun anymore and the “exploration” was officially over, and we never revived it. Might as well cos the school term was ending anyway, and we had moved to the new building the next year.

More pictures of the old school below. The book store was literally a hole in the wall but super packed during recess time where kids would check out cute stationery.

On to my “favourite” topic… the toilets… No, they were definitely NOT my favourite part of the school. Cos the standard of toilets in those days were more or less similar, that is, dank, stinky and mainly squat toilet bowls, I had somehow put up with them. In current times, I would rather torture my poor bladder and search for a cleaner toilet unless I had absolutely no choice.

The toilet cubicles in the old school building were tiny and often dark and very wet. I don’t recall the floor as ever been dry. The wood of most, if not all, of the cubicle doors were rotten either by termites or the structure had simply disintegrated from the dampness… Essentially, the toilets were just eeewww…

There are other memories of school days but think I shall stop here… The recollection to be continued another day…Cos I need to start cooking our reunion dinner now….

Happy Chinese New Year to all!!!

1.5kg

2015 seems to be the turning point in my life where I am determined to achieve certain goals that I had procrastinated for a while. Will talk more about that some other time. So, one of these goals is to lead a healthy lifestyle, i.e. exercise more, eat healthy etc. Sad to say, I am not very consistent in this area. But I had decided to do something about it, starting with the diet.

Earlier this year, I started making salad lunches for ourselves almost everyday except on days where we have appointments or what not. My salads are usually on the savoury side, cos I am not too fond of fruits and sweet stuff in them. Even so, I would boil the meat rather than pan-fry or grill. And because I boil everything, except for the greens, the preparation time is no more than 15, at max, 20 mins. Hence, the process of salad-making every night hasn’t turned into a tedious chore (yet).

Indeed, halving (or I would like to think so) my calories at lunch helps. I am surprised quite a number of seemingly healthy food like fish bee-hoon soup is quite high in calories. Well, unless it’s just fish and vegs in a non-milk soup, but not forgetting the amount of salt and oil. So I would think my non-fried, all-boiled salad lunches are  definitely healthier.

Guess what!

I’d weighed myself recently and found that I had lost around 1.5kg since the end of last year!! The healthy eating must have paid off. Ok, plus the increasing stress at work too. When I m stressed-out, food is the last thing on my mind.

Just to be sure that this is not just a once-off anomaly, I’d weighed myself daily for the past week and it shows the same (with some slight variance +/- few grams) weight!

Though 1.5kg isn’t physically obvious but I do feel a little lighter, and that my clothes fit better. Again, it is not a lot but it does make one feel better. And this is no crash diet. I cheat during the weekends otherwise life is no fun. I just stop snacking during the day. Well, I don’t do that usually. Only sometimes when the sugar craving hits, and I’ll just nibble a little of my biggest weakness- chocolate. But now, even the chocolate nibbling needs to be reduced.

Hope to keep up with the healthy eating and keep DOWN the weight! :)