Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cavalock and The Serious Raid at Legoland

Thank gawd for friends with cars, we get to visit joints in faraway hideaways on elevated highlands like Dempsey Hill. Japanese cafe Henri Charpentier was the venue of an after-dinner rendezvous and it was our first time there. Classy decor, great service and an enticing baked selection. Clockwise we had the lemon tart, mille-crepe, strawberry shortcake and mont blanc. All the desserts were as gratifying as hyped up to be and we were already making plans to return for lunch soon.

Their French signature flaming crepe suzette was good but I ain't exactly a Grand Marnier fan, bit too tangy for me. If you had enough of hipster cafes, then this is a relaxing alternative place to hang out or maybe impress a date. We are definitely looking forward to exploring the rest of the menu some day (two words!).

At last, I crossed the border to Legoland Tijuana Johor Bahru but this is not like any other Legoland Malaysia guide, this is how to get in without buying the entry fee and go on a madcap 45-minute shopping spree. Yes, I'm talking bout a serious freakin' raid!

So here's the deal if you just want to shop at Legoland and not visit the theme park. You need to pay a 155 ringgit deposit which you'll get back when you spend 100 ringgit or more, yeah I said 'when' instead of 'if' cos we all know what's gonna happen. And you'll have only 45 minutes to do your shopping.

Right now they have the Chinese New Year Lego sheep/goat/ram figure promo but only if you buy certain sets or themes like Ninjago. I bought a buncha Star Wars sets so I didn't get it but I got packs of Lego ang pows instead. :(. Price wise it's almost the same as what we are paying here and if you factor in transport charges and the hassle of carrying the big boxes on the buses like I did, then I would strongly suggest you just get it in Singapore. BUT if you can get some kind discount then it's worth a trip. :)

Their build-a-minifigure selection is pretty good. I managed to build nine different ones and could have easily made a dozen. It's almost as good as the one I went to in NYC Times Square IMHO. Cheaper too if you consider the current exchange rate! Their pick-a-brick wall looks a lot better than any wall we have here. Now 45 minutes ain't a lot of time cos if you plan to pick bricks and build those cute little minifigures, you won't have time for much shopping.

There you go, if you are a Lego collector, there ought to be something at Legoland Malaysia that you can't find back home in Singapore or cheaper in JB than at our local stores. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cavalock and The Super-Hero Cookie Creation

The first bake order of the year from our tiny apartment kitchen is out! So we had an order for a friend's 5 or maybe 6-year-old boy's birthday party. We asked him for his cookie choice of comic book characters and among those he picked, there was Cyclops from the X-Men. Now if you are a comic-book fan, you would understand when I ask, "Seriously? Cyclops?!? You really want Cyclops butter cookies?!?". Well, he also picked Wonder Woman which I believe is for the little girls coming to his party. Yah, I know it ain't the kinda gender representation we like to see but that's what the kid asked for.

A look at a tray of very rare Scarlet Spider cookies before they all become Spider-Man! I always get a blast whenever we get an order for comic-book cookies like last year's the Avengers and Batman.

So I told myself I hope to get more writing done this year and the crazy thing is I am but just not on this blog. My writing therapy has me churning out a couple stories that I hope to self-publish one day. In the meantime, I have also busy with mixing and matching the new official Lego minifigures Series 13. And no, this little scene wasn't created cos of any new ban on public drinking. ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cavalock and The Gyoza Gaiety

I have been to their restaurant at Neil Road years ago when I was still part of a productive workforce, but I guess a busy office work life back then left me with no time to blog bout it. Anyway, I was able to drop by Jing Hua Xiao Chi's Orchard Road outlet at the classy Palais Renaissance earlier this week for lunch. And I hereby declare they got the best damn gyoza I have tasted in a freakin' long time. These pan-fried mixed seafood and pork dumplings are simply irresistible. The skin is crispy and the fillings delicious. My only regret was picking the small serving of just six, so do yourself a favour and order the ten-piece serving.

Another dish you don't normally find elsewhere is their popular Osmanthus flower soup with glutinous rice ball dessert. Its got a sweet floral flavour and the rice balls come with fillings of black sesame, lotus seed with walnut, peanut and red bean paste. Not as sweet as I thought it would be but the floral scent definitely comes out strong.

So hey, it's only the first half of January and I have already been to Tijuana Johor Bahru twice this year! Well, the first incursion was actually on New Year's Day for a friend's wedding. With the current conversion rate, it's a great time to go shopping for Chinese New Year snacks and stuff. Got a box of some of the best pineapple tarts we ever tasted from Lavender Bakery at their City Square outlet, just across the Causeway, for only about S$10 for 32 pieces.

But if Chinese New Year goodies ain't your thing then check this out. Where else around here can you find Uniqlo t-shirts this cheap?!? Definitely not in Singapore. Alright, you may or may not like the designs on sale that day but still, it's a great buy for any Uniqlo t-shirt.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Cavalock and The Return of The Ronin Chef

First I believe was Wasabi Tei at Far East Plaza, then Chikuwa Tei along Mohammed Sultan Road, followed by Mitsuba at Central and now it's Kaiware at Tripleone Somerset. Yup, it seems like the same couple behind the first three Japanese restaurants are now at their new Somerset joint. He's like some wandering ronin chef! Stealthily moving from restaurant to restaurant! In case you are wondering, the sashimi here is just as thick and fresh as always. They also got a different daily special menu, saw it but wasn't impressed by it. I'll just stick to my aka-carte chirashi sushi the next time I'm there.

It took me awhile to figure out what to do for my first post of the year. Now what better way to start a new year than with a calendar? So here's a desk calendar from 1966 that I found in the old family home and guess what, it's still in excellent condition. It's a collection of real big fancy ass houses by developer CDL back in 1966. A rare retro peek into the homes of rich locals and expats.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cavalock and the Eve of Eve Post

Just in case, I don't have a chance to post anything in the next few days .... ;)

Happy New Year!

Well, it's the end of the year and I figured I'll just give thanks to the "good stuff" of 2014. For starters, I'm so glad that I was able to read more (analog) books and wrote more short stories than in the last couple years. One of the highlights of 2014 has gotta be my trip to Indianapolis for Gen Con and then to New York. This year, there was baking in the tiny apartment kitchen, relic hunting in the old family home and lotsa eating all across the island.

So one way I'll be stuffing my face next year is with the latest edition of the Entertainer. We got the 2014 edition as a birthday gift and we had a blast with the dining coupons in it.

One last thing I just wanna say bout eating and 2014 is something that annoyed the heck outta me. I call it the Worst Food Trend of 2014. I also call it the Seafood Smashing Syndrome or Crustacean Crushing Crisis. More than couple of such joints have opened this year. It's where you pay a ton of money for a little bag of crustacean seafood and vegetables in some mundane sauces. Empty that bag by pouring its contents all over your table before eating that messy spill with your hands. Hey, I don't mind the idea, the food's alright but what really pisses me off are the crazy exorbitant prices you pay for something so little. I know seafood ain't cheap but really, some of the prices are plain ridiculous. Nah, I'm not gonna name names here but it's pretty easy to find them online.

Hah, here's hoping that next year we'll see more good food at more reasonable prices.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cavalock and The Christmas Eve Supermart Run

It's a Christmas Eve post! And what better excuse to do another little supermarket run and see what's stacking the holiday shelves at Meidi-Ya. Hey, I just wanna say that even though I do this once in a while, I'm not astrosurfing for the Japanese supermarket. I mean I wish I could but so far no freebies have headed my way! I'll even be the first to admit that their prices aren't cheap. I simply like shopping there cos they bring in cool stuff I don't find anywhere else and I just wanna share them with folks here. ;)

Starting with something cute but way outta my price range, twelve little Japanese mikans for almost S$80. Now that can of craft beer from Japan's very first micro-brewery looks mighty tempting.


First time I'm seeing gourmet chips from India on sale here or anywhere else on the island. I'm guessing they'll go really good together with some chutney like maybe mango chutney. Hmmmm... or if one prefers a more familiar selection of English Christmas snacks, McVites and Cadbury have got that covered. Back to some Japanese goodness, Royal Milk Tea was my go-to vending machine drink whenever I'm back in Tokyo but not being a fan of dark chocolate, I'll gladly give this a pass.

Some more new wildlife pix from my 81-year-old Dad, looks like this little fella will be celebrating his first Christmas pretty soon. Have a Merry Christmas Everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cavalock and The Revisitation Wish List

This here is probably the hottest joint in town right now and I'm talking bout Sacha & Sons New York Deli at the Mandarin Gallery, where Wild Honey used to be. Alright take it easy, the popular brunch restaurant is still around, they just moved a unit away. So anyway, having heard of a New York deli opening here and me missing my chance to drop by one during my last visit to the Big Apple, I knew where I was gonna be having my lunch that afternoon.

Ordered the corned beef reuben with swiss cheese. Loved every bite of it including the pickles. Can't wait to try the rest of the menu cos everything sure looks good especially the latkes, chopped liver and matzo balls. I guess I'll be saying good-bye to Nassim Hill Bakery for now. Hah! Was fun while it lasted!

Hey, since it's almost the end of the year, I thought I'll do a Top 5 pick of my favourite or most memorable joints of the year. Places with great food that I enjoyed this year and where I would certainly hope to visit again next year. There's the just mentioned Sacha & Sons. Next up is the always-crowded Sunday Folks for their soft-serve desserts and I'm not saying this cos it's my friend's place who happened to also really love the Christmas fruitcakes from our tiny apartment kitchen! Then there's the recently discovered Japanese bakery Boulangerie Asanoya, can't wait to have coffee there again. Cicheti has a new menu that has me drooling over their gnocchi. Last pick is kinda difficult cos it's a toss between a Japanese restaurant or a steak house. Flipped the coin, rolled the dice and Bedrock Bar and Grill is where I hope to have dinner once more.

Cool news for the week! I finally found the ballpoint refills for my late uncle's pens. The pens are pretty old and most stationery shops like Kinokuniya no longer stock these thin refills anymore. I really like them, light-weight and they got a good balance. Thank the stars for Tokyu Hands and their fantastic pen supply selection. I also purchased a S$170 Flash Heroclix brick set (but not from Tokyu Hands!) and as a lifelong fan of the original Scarlet Speedster, I just can't get enough of the figures below that I pulled out of the 10 booster boxes. Heh, I bet what I just wrote made absolutely no sense to most of you reading this. Oh well, that's me. Once a geek, always a geek.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cavalock and The Cocktail Beer Catchup

I may be a little late to the world of Japanese cocktail beers but I certainly tried to make up for lost time over the weekend with two drink sessions. Calpis and beer, who knew such a heavenly combination would blow me away like it did at Japanese restaurant Azmaya over at Robertson Quay. The unique taste of calpis really came through but it didn't overpower the Asahi beer. Simply loved it especially with the never-ending all-you-eat parade of shabu shabu wagyu beef and pork.

Also managed to drop by Ginza Lion on the ground floor of the revamped Suntec City Tower Four. It's a Japanese-styled German bar or maybe a German-styled Japanese restaurant? Anyway spotted this on the menu and I just had to give it a shot. Half and half, Japanese Sapporo beer mixed in with German dark beer. I guess if the Axis won WWII, this would probably be the national drink. Well, the dark European brew definitely overwhelmed the lighter Japanese beer which was alright but it didn't deliver the extra kick I was kinda hoping for from this hybrid.

It's that time of the year again so I thought I would share something I found in the old family home that was really weird and it's Christmas-related too! Couldn't believe me eyes when I found a small stack of these family Christmas cards featuring my late mom, aunt and uncle when they were still really young. I mean who in this part of the world does family portrait Christmas cards anyway?!? Or was it a common thing back then? The only time I saw cards like these were on sitcoms and the Kardashians. Just one of the many bizarre discoveries in the old family home.  

After all the discoveries in the old family home, I have finally decided to chronicle the more unusual and unexplainable happenings. I have posted this on Facebook last week and the reactions have so far been rather encouraging. The following is a actual incident that happened on an afternoon when I was alone.

My body stiffened with a jolt as my eyes slowly opened and I tried desperately to recall what exactly happened to me. Sitting upright in a dusty dining room chair in the old family home, the last thing I remembered was curiously eyeing the unusual white stoned ring that I uncovered in the drawer of an antique dressing table. No larger than an innocent garden pea, the cloudy white stone sat majestically in the center setting. Judging by its oddly set prongs and knowing a bit about my family home’s history, I dare say that it was crafted around the end of the 19th century.

It was perhaps in an earlier moment of folly that I dared grasp the ring and stared into its white murky center stone. Caressing it between my fingers, the ring grew ominously colder with each passing moment. As I looked closer at the centerpiece, the stone appeared to shift and stir as if alive. A grey whirling cloud then emerged to descend in front of me and that was all I could remember. 

I then glanced at my watch and noticed that almost an hour had unaccountably vanished from my memory, for I had absolutely no recollection of what transpired during that period of time. The ring was on the old dining table when I regained control of my senses. I resisted the urge to touch it again but I knew the only way to remember the events of that missing hour was to enter whatever accursed realms the ring had led me to. I carefully picked it up. Part of me inexplicably knew that it would be sheer madness to actually attempt to wear the ring.

But this time, I was prepared. I set the alarm in my watch to ring five minutes later, hoping that it would shock me back from where or what awaited me. Gingerly holding the band between my fingers, I drew my breath in sharply before peering into the pale abyss that rested in the center of the ring. The room began to sway slowly from side to side, followed by the appearance of the familiar grey cloud hovering towards me like a shroud.

I immediately fortified my thoughts as a cascade of bizarre images flooded my mind. These were memories but they belonged to a life that I did not lived.

As I stood transfixed in the cloud, a pantheon of brazen sounds and colors soon took over and I remember screaming as loud as I humanly could. But the sound I made was nothing less than an inhuman howl, an unholy shriek that I never imagined possible. I shut my eyes again and when I opened them, I found myself in an ivory chamber kneeling before a trio of towering dark figures. Numerous tiny orbs floated across the hall, lighting it up in a kaleidoscope of unearthly hues.

The air around me was cold, ancient yet strangely familiar. I instinctively looked up at my three ominous hosts. Their tall and shapeless wavering forms made it almost impossible to distinguish them apart; one loomed closer to me while extending an appendage. As it whirled into view, I could tell that it was no human arm that was advancing towards me. It was a long brown creeping tentacle seeking its prey. My natural instinct was to recoil instantly but I could not move my legs nor feel them at all! Once again, I wanted to utter a cry of alarm but this time no sound, human or otherwise escaped me.

I turned away as fast as I could. My gaze lowered towards the polished white flooring and that was when my last remaining sliver of sanity abandoned me. The reflection I saw was not of any creature that has walked this Earth for over a hundred millenniums before the coming of Man. In place of any visage resembling a human face was a disturbing cyclopean mass of gelatinous green and yellow flesh. A single large white eyestalk blinked silently back at me.

Through whatever remaining senses I possess, the approaching tentacle behind me marked me with an evil sense of fear and loathing. In what may have been a final act of bravado, I decided to face my otherworldly challenger. I spun around, in time to face the impending appendage. It slithered towards me at an inhuman speed, its icy tip instantly attaching itself to my lone pale eye. A massive bolt of pain pierced through my alien body as the tentacle ripped my eye from me. And in that agonizing instance, I knew what it was; I finally understood what the outlandish images or memories are all about.

“The eye! My eye! The stone in the ring! They are one and the same!” I wanted so much to exclaim that revelation but it was naturally impossible. Instead of being blinded by its actions, I could still bear witness to the ungodly events that continued to unfold before me.

It was not unlike an eerie out-of-body experience as I could now view my former shapeless form lying motionless and the three nefarious figures clustering together. Loud sounds and noises began to erupt from all three, a sinister chorus of bestial growls, hisses and wailing. Their strange shadowy bodies commenced to shift and bend in a series of bizarre contortions in rhythm with their macabre chants. The unnerving ritual was truly such a vile sight that no sane person should ever be made to watch. Still in the firm lethal grip of the murderous tentacle, the white stone began to burn with a hellish glow.

From the center of the domed ceiling emerged a massive hideous black vortex. The devilish chanting continued to echo throughout the chamber as the spinning horror expanded to blanket the entire ceiling. I directed my attention towards the vortex and out of that sinister void extended a gigantic monstrous clawed hand. Four black gleaming sharp claws reaching deliberately down at the upstretched tentacle with the now blazing white stone. It was pure agony to maintain any semblance of sanity at this point. I could not possibly fathom what this all meant except for the overwhelming stench of primal malevolence and a foreboding of even fouler deeds.

Stretching out of the vortex, the claws were now within reach of its sacred prize when it inexplicably froze in midair. Then came the most hellish moment of all when it slowly turned to my direction. Even in my incorporeal form, I knew that it could somehow sense my disembodied presence, an outsider from a different time and dimension who reeked of fear and dread. In that single terrifying instance, I saw in the black palm of that colossal clawed hand was a single blood red eye glaring at me.

When just as all hope seemed to have forsaken me, there came a shrill buzzing sound from nowhere. The piercing noise began to crescendo and almost immediately, the nightmarish scene in front of me started to dissipate into a fiery ball of blinding light. My last vivid vision was the giant crimson eye almost engulfing me before everything became a maddening fusion of red and white inferno. Then came the silence.

It felt like an eternity before I woke up to the sound of my alarm watch buzzing mere inches from my face, as I lay slumped on the dining table. That recognizable tune was what shocked me from an otherwise heinous fate. An anchor to my own time and world, its audible intrusion must have set off an unnatural chain reaction of sorts. Now how do I know this, I could not speculate nor do I wish to comprehend the metaphysics behind my escape for my senses were still reeling from it all.

Just as I was about to climb out of my chair, I spied the white stoned ring resting under the table. It must have slipped out of my hand when I lost consciousness. Nervously, I bent down to retrieve it. It now felt warm to the touch and as hard I tried, I knew I couldn’t resist glimpsing at the stone one final time. And that was when I saw the harrowing truth.

For instead of a pure white centerpiece there appeared a speck of malignant red in the stone. The same evil hue as the scarlet eye that stalked me across time and space!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Cavalock and The Home-Baked Edition Part Deux

Now there's this new pie shop in town called Pie Face and I pass by their Bugis shop almost every day. Thing is, every time I'm in the neighbourhood, the joint is almost always empty. I'm not sure if at this rate, they are gonna survive here for long. I have seen their pies but have not bought any yet. I guess they do look rather pricy ($4.90 to $5.20 I believe) and it's going to take way more than a cute smiley face to get me to buy one. And comments from friends who have tried them range from "it's no big deal" to "Don's pies are better value for money".

So the baker in the house decided to bake our very own meat pies right in our tiny apartment kitchen and give them free to our friends! Well, they sure appreciate them chicken pies and wagyu beef pies when we started handing them out over the weekend after that.

Here's the last iced cookie bake for the year! The Hello Kitty cookies were bound for a little girl's party and I thought I'll just share some of the pix here. Well, it's this year's last cookie cos our tiny apartment kitchen is gonna be busy with our annual boozy Christmas fruitcake bake!

Here's something I thought was rather amusing that I found in the old family home. Looks like when my late uncle was working in New York back in the 1970s he kinda missed home cooked food and had to settle for these take-outs. All the Chinese restaurant menus are in incredibly good condition and they provide a truly fascinating insight into the kind of Chinese food New Yorkers were eating back then. I bet a lot has changed since then and not just the price tags. These days with almost everyone being so much more knowledgeable about international cuisine, I suspect the names as well as the recipes you see below would have evolved to something a little more "authentic".