Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cavalock and The Satanic Birthday Dinning Week

Been ages since I been to a really fancy Chinese dinner that's not someone's wedding but ... it is after all my birthday month and this here is a free dinner. Thanks to the bank, I got a free dinner for two at St. Regis Singapore's Yan Ting restaurant.

First time there. Enjoyed everything on the set menu although we found it lacking in carbo so we ordered some rice. I know you aren't supposed to dig in to so much carbo but we just didn't wanna go to bed hungry later. Favourite was the abalone although I always forget, which is the one that we aren't allowed to have? Abalone, shark's fin or is it bird's next? I know it's one of them ... I'm kidding!!!

So I went to an army reunion last week with people I haven't seen in decades. One of the first things someone said to me was, "I'm surprised you are married," to which I replied, "You thought I was gay?" "No, we thought you are so satanic and into devil-worshipping that you weren't interested in relationships," or words to that effect but the words "satanic" and "devil-worshipping" were definitely brought up more than once. Looking back, I think I did mentioned bout reading comic books and playing games like Dungeons and Dragons while in camp.

Needless to say, the Baker-at-Home found all this absolutely hilarious. I guess she's now really curious as to the kinda teenager I was. A gamer friend said that these camp mates must really like you to invite you to the reunion even after assuming you were a devil-worshipper.

I'm just shocked that in this day and age, people still assume that "satanic devil-worshippers" are incapable of finding love or even maintaining a serious relationship. <^;^>

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cavalock and The Overdue Return Home Post

Back to some local food after almost a dozen posts on my Tokyo trip. Hah! We were fortunate to grab not one but two seatings at popular local joint Magic Square. Here are already a whole buncha articles written about the place like here and here. It's a year-long pop-up restaurant helmed by young local chefs. Situated at Portsdown Road, it's a 18-seater joint with two seatings and 3-course lunch offerings on Fridays and Saturdays. 

I believe they change their menu every month. We kinda had the same menu cos we were only like, a week or two apart. I said 'kinda' cos they were cool enough to switch the single main for us from beef which we had the first time we were there to grouper fish. Anyway my favourite is the above delicious mutant child of Indian prata and Chinese mantou. Rip it apart and dip it in that heavenly curried cauliflower ricotta sauce. Only complaint is there's only one bun. And that's also my only minor complaint that I wish I had more of almost every dish. All excellent dishes which I wouldn't mind paying a little more for bit larger portions. 

Highly recommend the place to everyone. Great fresh food and it's all about supporting our local and very talented young chefs. Most likely to return when they change the menu before the end of the year.

Am currently nuts about the new skirmish miniature wargame Kill Team. Set in the rich sci-fi gaming world of Warhammer 40K, this is a fast and light game of miniature fighting where each player controls about 5 to maybe 20 figures and fight over objectives in various scenarios. It's played skirmish style so each figure moves on its own instead of as a whole huge unit like in other miniatures games.

I have assembled a Kill Team of Blood Marines Intercessors as well as in the middle of putting together a Tyranids team. I usually play a team of 6 Intercessors. How you put together a team is you have 100 points to play around with, and each member would cost you a certain number of points, weapons too. So you try to put together a team and you count the points and see it goes. Like a sniper Space Marine armed with a stalker bolt rifle would cost this many points while an alien Genestealer would cost a different number of points. Still learning all the intricacies and tactics when it comes to skirmish warfare. So many different factions with different abilities. Think I have so far only played five or six games, lost all but really enjoyed them. Really. I mentioned before that I find painting the little miniatures extremely therapeutic.

How crazy am I about Kill Team? This is me putting together or obsessing over my Kill Team on my flight home from Tokyo last month. While listening to retro music of cos. Hah!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Cavalock and The Self-Serve Sake Sensation

Even since that time a year ago, when we wandered into a Foundry bakery at Karuizawa, we have become huge fans of their yummy creations. Well, we didn't have time to visit the place again even though we did drop by Karuizawa for a day but we were fortunate to find a small Foundry outlet at Shinjuku. Couldn't resist a slice of melon cake while the Baker-at-Home had the peach. A most welcome treat during summer.

More random Japan food notes and pix. Didn't notice this the last time I was at Narita's airport lounge. Self-serve Sake! Three different ones to choose from. I know I had one right after breakfast, nice and dry. Just can't remembered which. :)

No Tokyo vacation would be complete without me dropping by my favourite Japanese board game shop Yellow Submarine. This trip, I visited not one but two Yellow Submarines in Tokyo, their Shinjuku as well as Akihabara outlets. Picked up more games than in March but there were a few here that were requests from friends.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cavalock and The Second Obligatory Tokyo Food Collage of The Year

This Tokyo trip, we got the opportunity or rather the Baker-at-Home had the opportunity to chat with at least a couple of young English-speaking Japanese sales staff on two separate occasions. As kinda expected, both were very enthusiastic when it to came talking bout Singapore. One even grew up and studied in Singapore before moving back to Japan. The usual chit-chat bout the local weather like where's hotter right not Tokyo or Singapore, where did they learn their English and all that. We had to sort of dampen their enthusiasm a little by telling what life really is like here. Hah!

Just like always, I got our trip's obligatory photo collage right here, right now! The slice of gorgeous wagyu beef was our first dinner this trip at our usual favourite shabu shabu joint. Damn, I love that pix, never fails to make me hungry.

So everyone's talking bout Crazy Rich Asians and it kinda reminded me of something funny. Before I get into that I gotta say, this ain't the kinda movie I'll watch. Nothing bout it being Singapore or anything like that, I just don't buy movie tickets for a rom com anymore. Limited time means I gotta watch what I watch, if you know what I mean. Rom coms are more like "downloadable" movies to leave playing in the background when one is doing work around the house. Movie tickets are reserved for Marvel/DC blockbusters. big budget action movies, the kind better watched on the big screen. But really, let's be realistic here, the success or failure of that movie is not gonna make a difference in the lives of most average Singaporeans here. And to all the folks out there who are kicking a fuss bout "representation", it ain't a documentary, it's a work of fiction. It's like expecting all Italian Americans to be members of the Mafia after watching The Godfather.

Anyway, hearing about Crazy Rich Asians and all the hoopla it's causing reminded me of an episode of my childhood. Now I gotta clarify that I am definitely and absolutely NOT rich at all! I prefer "middle lower-income". Just that it reminded me of how when I was a wee little kid, me Mom would constantly tell me that we are "a poor family" and that if anyone asked me (no one has ever asked me!), "tell them you are from a poor family". So in my mind and majority of my childhood I honestly believed that we were a poor family. The point isn't whether or not our family was poor, the point is I believed her. I mean, what kid wouldn't believe their own Mom. Right?

It's pretty funny looking back. I mean, I remember whenever I wanted a toy, my family would say something like "we can't afford it." and I guess that kinda reinforced my belief that we were poor. Back then friends in school and elsewhere never really talked bout our families' income level or anything like that. So I never really had any reason to doubt my family's claim.

It was only much later in (adult) life that I realised that I kinda grew up in a bubble. As a teenager, I was perfectly happy with my TV shows, my BBC Worldwide Radio, my books, magazines and comics and later my computer games. There was no Internet or social media so almost everything I learned bout the outside world was from devouring media content from the West. Speaking of which I never felt the need for "inclusiveness" or "diversity", as in I never felt the need to see an Asian face whenever I read a Marvel or DC comic book or watched American or British sitcoms. Maybe if you are an Asian American, Crazy Rich Asians is a big deal cos you are constantly surrounded by all them nasty white folks? But I digress.

I love my crazy (not rich) childhood and I miss my cozy little bubble! Thank gawd there was no Internet when I was growing up. <^;^>

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cavalock and The Inexorable Tokyo Food Haul

It's not just lemons that are in season right now in Japan, it's also all things peachy as peach season is also upon us. Now if you are planning on buying peaches like we did, get the ones from Yamanashi prefecture. I swear they are the juiciest. They are at least double the price back home here in Singapore. Besides hauling back the usual fruits and veggies, it's also perfectly common for us to buy back bout a gazillion packs of snacks and confectioneries. Anyone who has ever been to Japan knows one does not merely come back with only a few snacks. Just walk into any food basement in a departmental store like Isetan or Takashimaya in Tokyo and you'll see locals lining up for the latest seasonal snacks. In case you are wondering, Tokyo Bananas is soooo 1990s! Small part of me is glad I'm now outta the rat race cos otherwise I'll likely buy twice as many snacks for folks in the office.

Beef Pringles! Not sure if it's all artificially flavoured or not. Bought it for a friend who's into such savoury goodies. Don't think you can find this outside of Japan. Speaking of things you can't find outside Japan, that Snoopy tin below was purchased at the Snoopy Museum and I was honestly attracted to the tin box more than what was inside it. Plan was to use it to store my smaller board game accessories or some Warhammer figures. It was only when I got back home, did I realised the Cigare roll cookies inside were by famous Japanese brand Yoku Moku! Good luck getting that once the Museum closes next month! Hah!

Saw a queue of folks queueing for these financiers. Didn't see this brand during our previous trips to Japan so figured we'll just buy a box. Butter Butler is really really buttery as well as moist and extremely BUTTERY. Needless to say, I loved every bite of it. Of cos there were lots more delicious snacks that we brought back, most have already passed through digestive systems or given to friends. I guess more hours in the gym for us.

So while we were away in Tokyo, me 84-year-old Dad was busy making his own way, criss-crossing the island and snapping his usual bird pix. Here are some of the few thousand shots he took over the two weeks. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cavalock and The Soba Tempura Revelation

Hands down, our favourite meal this Tokyo trip. Kyourakutei's tempura soba at Kagurazaka. This Michelin-starred restaurant was on our list of places to visit back in March but that place was closed when we dropped by the area. But we did stumble upon an award-winning beef Wagyu beef joint that time. Anyway, Kyourakutei was open when we reached the place around noon. Not a very big place, I guess you could even call it cozy especially with the slightly dim lighting. We got counter seats which is usually our preferred kinda seating at Japanese restaurants for the obvious reason of getting to see all them talented chefs at work.

The pictures may not do it justice but the tempura was fantastic. They were lightly fried and delightfully crisp. And sitting at the counter also allowed me to ogle at the meaty octopus one of the chefs was preparing, that naturally led us ordering some tasty octopus tempura. Notice how incredibly thin the fried batter that's around the three pieces of octopus meat below. Of cos, the soba was top notch as well and we managed to snap a pix of the soba being made right in front of the restaurant.

I have mentioned how convenient and better it is to shop in Japan than Singapore on more than one occasion. More choices, more exclusive stuff and much cheaper too. I have more or less stopped filling my wardrobe with anything bought in Singapore. It's summer in Tokyo and that means the stuff on sale are usually just right for our hot weather. Breezy shirts, light pants and cool t-shirts. Besides the usual suspects from BEAMS this trip, I grabbed a pair of Japan made shoes! Oh, and socks too. I bought a ton of socks, from Japanese brand Tabio. Best socks ever!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cavalock Returns to Karuizawa

So we found ourselves back in the mountain resort of Karuizawa after our last visit there a year ago. An absolute delight and it turned out to a great opportunity to escape the heat too. I thought it would be hotter here but it was actually cooler out here. Well, the early morning Shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station was already a chance to take a post-breakfast nap to re-charge for the rest of the day's excursion.

We didn't visit the central town of Kyu-Karuizawa like last time. Instead we saw this Hawaiian burger joint Kua Aina and since it's touted as the "best burger from Hawaii", we knew we had to have that for lunch. My burger was huge, really big and this was probably the first time in a long while that I couldn't finish a burger. It tasted great, I like it a lot but that's a damn big burger and the fries were amazing too. Nothing like that monkeycrap McD sells. Think I finished all of that. The Baker-at-Home was raving bout her avocado burger too.

Out in the Karuizawa countryside, it was much cooler than on the streets of Tokyo. That's me taking some time out and sitting under the tree in a garden park, enjoying the light breeze all by my lonesome self! Not that hot at all, even under the sun. The Baker-at-Home snapped this shot after she was done with her shopping.

Hey, in my earlier post, I mentioned bout losing the downloaded Japanese Netflix shows when I got home. Well, a friend offered a solution for that, simply switch your iPad to flight mode till you watch all your downloaded stuff! Long as your iPad doesn't 'know' you are back home, you are good to go.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cavalock and The Hot Summer Observation

I was asked if I preferred the cold or hot weather in Tokyo. Well, I prefer visiting the city during summer cos you don't need to pack extra thick outfits and also there's lots more shopping to do in the summer! This year, there must have been a lemon surplus or something cos lemons were everywhere. Don't remember that much lemony items on sale past summers. We ate lemon desserts, drank lemonade, watched variety shows of women drinking booze with lemons, etc. (No, she does not take her clothes off after drinking that!)

Outdoor beer gardens are pretty common during summer too I guess. Although I can imagine them being around almost all year round except winter. There are definitely fewer trees along the streets of Tokyo compared to Singapore and maybe all that concrete is partly to blame for the raising temperature?

And of cos, what would Tokyo be without the queues. Summer exclusive releases! We saw queues for various kinds of new releases, from console games to limited edition streetware. No, we didn't join them. But if it was food, we probably would! Hah! However a certain queue caught my eye and and that was for the lottery. I assume there was a big upcoming lottery draw that weekend cos of the long snaking queue. After purchasing their lottery tickets, punters would ask for blessings at a little shrine right next to the lottery booth. That's something you don't see at your neighbourhood Singapore Pools outlet.

Another thing I noticed about Japan is you tend to notice more than a few elderly couples hanging out together, as in eating at restaurants, shopping, etc. Just them doing stuff together. I think that's great. I hardly see old couples doing that in Singapore. I mean, when you see old folks in restaurants, it's usually on weekends and with their kids and grandkids. Nothing wrong with any of that. Just something that got me thinking.