Sunday, 31 May 2015

Singapore, Arab Street (Cafe-hopping)

Met up with my cousin today and we went cafe-hopping together. Whoppie!! I'm so full now; I couldn't believe that I ate so much.

We walked to Arab Street, which is most probably well-known to many people for its textile boutiques, oriental carpets and Muslim apparels. But there is actually more to it. The shop houses adjacent and parallel to Arab Street have recently seen an increase in the number of cafes and shops, with creative concepts and interesting products. We're heading there today for some exploration.

This is in Haji Lane and it's one long stretch of road with well-maintained shop houses. We had fun entering the shops; there was a large range of cute and girly products here. Oh, and before you go 'ewww', there were also shops selling really nice action figure merchandise found in Marvels comic books. 

Krave was the first cafe stop for our late lunch. It's located in Bali Lane. We wanted to try out this new cafe because it was opened quite recently. We loved the restaurant the moment we entered it. The interior had a cosy feel to it. Plus it's air-conditioned, so it was a cool sanctuary from the hot weather outside. 

A quick look at their menu, I found to my delights that the food here is a fusion of both Western and Malay cooking style. This is great because we hope that Krave has something new to offer to the booming cafe scene.

See the touch of chili padi in their Prawn Arrabiata? It gives this dish a spicy kick. I really love the Arrabiata as it's a light and tasty meal, that don't make you feel bloated after eating.

We also had their Krave drumlets and the Cempadak brulee. The sauce of the drumlets has the sweet and sour taste and the creme brulee has the light, natural sweetness of the Cempedak fruit. 

The Cempedak fruit is actually native to Southeast Asia, and it is grown widely in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. The Cempedak fruit is often used to make deep fried fritters. They are absolutely yummy and remain one of my favourite Malay food.

The Cempadak creme brulee was innovative but I feel that the brulee would have tasted nicer with the durian fruit. Hmm.. maybe I was looking for a richer taste here.

Meeting up with my cousin is always fun because we have so many things to talk about. Well, for me, great companion equates to great experience at Krave!  

We were on our way to our second cafe at Jalan Pisang. Pisang in English means banana. The Sultan mosque could be seen here in the photo. Its golden dome and its architecture has never stop to fascinate me. The mosque has a rich history and is one of the most important mosque in Singapore. Gazetted as a national monument in 1975, its facade has remained unchanged through time.

We had our dinner at The Lab Sg. Hehhe... my stomach has space for more cafe food. I find the whole concept of this cafe interesting and bold. Their experimentation on different food was something that I looked forward to.

All I can say is that this is the only time that I ate a lot of beef. I am generally not a 'meat' person but the Heisenberger looked really great to give it a miss.

Having sweet potato fries is a welcoming change from the normal potato fries. In fact, I like it a lot; it's something that I crave from time to time. 

And the 2 gigantic meatballs in my Gehaktball; I couldn't finish them because they were so huge. This dish originates from the Netherlands and having tasted this dish, I'm curious about the Dutch. Well, tasting and appreciating food from different regions is surely the easiest way to learn about another country's culture. 

Overall, I'll give a big thumbs-up to The Lab and cheers to all their bolder, bigger creations in the near future.


This is my lemony minty drink. Very refreshing. My first cafe-hopping experience will surely lead to another session of cafe-hopping. I realised that this unspoken thought of mine mirrored exactly what my cousin was thinking. She suddenly stated that we will do this again. Wow, I wondered whether great minds do actually think alike. Well, I suppose they do. This is really a day of hearty retreat for me.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Malaysia, Melaka

This must be my umpteenth time in Melaka. I love going to Melaka for a short retreat because it's not too faraway from Singapore. Plus, it's a quiet town so there's no crowd or traffic. For me, the whole point of being here is to just sleep, eat, and sleep. 

I can still cover the whole heritage area of Melaka though, in just one day when I'm here. That's what I normally do when I am bored out of my minds. My starting point is always at the Independance Memorial and then I'll walk up towards the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum.

It's good to visit the palace because this is where we could learn about the system of governance during the time when the Sultan ruled Melaka. The picture below features the King Audience Hall, also known as the 'Balairong Seri' in Malay.

Paramewara was the first Sultan of Melaka. He took up the name of Iskandar Syah later on in his life, after he converted to Islam. 

Under his rule, the nobles who reported to him were the 'Bendahara' (main royal advisor & chief justice), the 'Penghulu Bendahari' (minister for finance), the Temenggong (minister for home affairs), and the Laksmana (minister for defence/naval force). These were the prominent ones but there were others too. 

A stone throw away from the palace is the Porta de Santiago, which means a small gatehouse. It used to be part of the A' Famosa fort (The Famous Fort) built by the Portuguese, after they defeated the Melaka Sultanate army and secured Melaka as one of their important outposts along the Spice Route. The fort later on fell under the Dutch and then to the British. The British eventually destroyed the entire A' Famosa fort because they feared that the fort would be used against them. And so Porta de Santiago is the only building that remains until today. 

Making my way up the hill...

I came across a Dutch graveyard and the ruins of the St Paul Church. You can see the Straits of Melaka from here. This must be the best spot to monitor the seas during the olden times. Right next to the church is the Governor's Museum, where the Dutch used to reside and work. 

I didn't stay long here because there was nothing much. Instead, I walked down the road and came across the Literature Museum. In here, I read about Malayan poets and writers. I'm actually quite amazed that I could recognise two of the writers featured in the museum: Munshi Abdullah and A. Samad Said. I've read some of their works too before.

It appeared that I was the only one in the building at that time. There was no one at the reception counter when I walked in, so I decided to leave. The place felt abandoned and dark. Against my better judgment, I think I got spooked out.

Frankly speaking, I've been to so many museums in Melaka that I've forgotten their names. After seeing so many artefacts in one day, it was time to get out and be in the open. I knew that I could get claustrophobic if I were to stay in an enclosed area for too long.

Finally, I have reached the Christ Church, the Stadhuy and many other red buildings that could be seen here in the Red Square. The redness of the buildings was quite daunting. I really don't like the colour. They were originally painted white by the Dutch but I don't know why the British decided to repaint them red.

I took a walk along the Melaka River after that. It was a nice walk if only the sun was not too sunny. By the time I'm done with my walk, I was drenched with sweat and needed a cool bath. 

Overall, it was a good exploration for me and a nice exercise. I need to get a bite now!! Ciao.