Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hachi

Quick comment: I visited Hachi a couple of months ago, but never got round to blogging about it. Now that I've moved to the UK, it's becoming a challenge to find a good Japanese restaurant that serves fresh sashimi, so I have to rely on my memory for those yummy Japanese meals I used to have.

The great thing about eating omakase, is there's this element of "ooh I wonder what's next", which may not sit well with melancholic personality types who like to plan ahead. I think it's great, as I don't have to guess what's good on the menu, and then stress about making the wrong decisions in picking food.

Hachi is one of those Japanese restaurants which doesn't have a menu. You go in, sit down and tell the chef if there's anything you don't eat, and he takes it from there. This place had been on my "to-eat" list for the many months, but I never got round to it until the night I met up with an old friend as part of my goodbye dinners.

This particular menu was very light, and the individual dishes have kind of blurred into a nice hazy memory, but I do recall some of them:
  • Mashed potato, veggies
  • 3 kinds of sashimi, one of which was pufferfish
  • Sashimi
  • Soup
  • Pumpkin & tomato
Since it was quite light-going at this point, we were in no way ready to throw in the towel just yet, so when the the chef looked at us and said "More?", we requested for the wagyu beef (because my friend said it was divine), and finished off with a ochazuke and pickles. By this time, we were well and truly full, but not quite full enough not to end the meal with some green tea ice-cream.

From what I've heard, Hachi will be closed at Orchard Emerald and moving to Tanjong Pagar sometime this month. I'll admit Hachi is not exactly cheap and definitely not the kind of place you can visit every week, but I do think it's worth visiting just once to taste some excellent Japanese food.

Cost: $130 per person (the wagyu beef was $30 per person)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Train pain


I've always maintained that we Singaporeans are a very spoilt lot and have taken many things in our lives for granted, but I've never fully appreciated Singapore's efficiencies until quite recently. A simple example of this is the tube.

The tube's been around for more than 100 years, and from what I've been told, hasn't been upgraded properly for many years. Now that the olympics is going to be held in this city in 2012, I think they've finally started upgrading their system. What this means is that every weekend, when upgrading and maintenance works are being done, I have to check that the lines I normally take are running (so far, the Circle line has been closed on weekends), and if not, plan alternate routes to get to the places I want.

That's not counting the unplanned delays, like trains stalling at stations, or like what happened today, some happy vandals having fun at the Gunnersbury station. I'm still confused about this, how can graffiti stop a train? As a result, my District line train to Richmond was suspended, and I had to take another route to work. Painful, it was.

I'm getting smarter now. I've learnt to check the tube website for updates on all lines now, so I don't get any nasty surprises.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A quickie from London

Thanks for all the emails and messages asking me to update! It’s been a great week settling in, getting used to the tube, and of course going to work. I'm now installed in a very comfortable serviced apartment right on Kensington High St, and seem to have semi-settled into a routine - getting up at about 7ish for work, checking the weather to see if I need an umbrella or a heavier coat, praying the District line works and there are no train delays...

I wish I could show pictures of my apartment and other things I’ve seen, done and eaten, but my camera is not working…sob. I hope it can be fixed without costing an arm and a leg!

Here’s a quick list of what I got up to in the last week:
  • First dinner of fish & chips (what else?) in Piccadilly
  • Got lost in Harrods food hall while looking for Laduree
  • Got a Harrods Rewards card because I wanted the 10% discount when buying a pair of shoes.
  • Yes, I’ve bought a pair of shoes from Harrods. I could only hold out for a week. Patent blue mary jane flats, great for walking!
  • Went to Holy Trinity Brompton for Sunday 11.30 service
  • Had dinner at Four Seasons (duck & siew yoke!)
  • Watched Lion King. The sets and costumes are really cleverly and beautifully done, but the musical is a little too loooong. I almost dozed off in the second half.
  • Set off the smoke alarm in my apartment while making toast…oops!
  • Set up my bank account with HSBC...hurrah! It wasn't as painful as I expected, but probably because I made sure I had all the necessary documents
  • Activated a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. That took a bit of time as the people at the Carphone Warehouse were sooo helpful.
  • Boring adult things like making appointments to see apartments and to register for a National Insurance number
  • Did my first load of laundry and cooked for the first time in years…woohoo!
  • Eaten dim sum…twice, and during the same weekend! Once at Royal China Club in Baker St, and the other at Imperial China near Leicester Sq. Royal China is much nicer, definitely more posh. The lobster dumplings are amazing!
Some observations:
  • It's not girly to carry an umbrella. Because of the drippy weather, everyone, including men, carries one just in case. Actually, just as the stereotype that everyone in Paris walks around with a baguette tucked under their arm is true, the one about a man in a suit with a big umbrella and a newspaper holds pretty true here too.
  • It's sale season now! Every single shop has a big 'Sale!' sign in its window, with discounts of up to 70% off. However, because London is so expensive, the sales just bring their prices down to normal prices back home. Boo.
  • The Tesco brand frozen desserts are really yummy! We've tried the sticky toffee pudding, strawberry trifle and chocolate ├ęclairs so far. So much for the diet.
  • UK keyboards are different! Because of the £ (which is located above the number 3), some other symbols have been moved around, like “ and @.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Life interruptus

Christmas and New Year has passed by without a peep out of me. As always, I had a great time during the festive season. I went to KL for a few days to visit my dad (and also eat and shop to my heart's content, lots of new yummy places and great buys thanks to the year-end sales), went to the usual parties, celebrated my birthday with a swish dinner at Gunther's and then drinks at House, and also managed to spend an eye-popping amount of money buying household items for my impending move to the UK.

I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. There are still a few boring admin things to be done, my suitcases to be repacked, the shipments to be sorted out, but I'm quite happy that I managed to achieve so much in the space of 2 weeks. I just hope I haven't forgotten anything.

It would have been nice to blog about my trip preps, just so I can remember how I got through this season, but I just didn't have the time to note it all out. Life interrupts and tosses you into its quick flow, and before you know it, you're now at your last night in Singapore trying not to panic and to stay organised.

My next post will be when I'm in London. A new chapter begins.