January 21, 2017

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by Suhaile Md

CARRYING cash, counting change and a wallet full of jingling coins may not be your thing. Or you might have just forgotten to withdraw money to buy groceries. If so, there are various cashless payment options, like using your EZ-link or credit card, to pay for your groceries the next time you shop at supermarket chains like NTUC FairPrice and Giant.

Here’s a list of those available options at NTUC FairPrice, Giant, Sheng Siong, Cheers and 7-Eleven.

 FairPriceSheng SiongGiantCheers7-Eleven
VisaYesYesYesYesYes
MastercardYesYesYesYesYes
Diners Club InternationalYesYesYesNoNo
Samsung PayYesYesYesYesYes
Android PayYesYesYesYesYes
Apple PayYesYesYesYesYes
Ez-LinkNoNoYesYesYes
MasterCard PayPassYesYesYesYesYes
Visa PayWaveYesYesYesYesYes
Nets FlashPayYesYesYesYesYes
Nets
YesYesYesYesYes

NETS

Most of us are familiar with this. Insert the card into the card reader; type your pin. Money is deducted straight from your account. If you lose your card, a stranger has to know your PIN number to be able to use it. Even if it’s stolen and the thief knows your PIN, your losses are limited to your withdrawal limit.

 

Credit cards

Payment via VISA and Mastercard are still the most widely accepted. Diners International, not so much. As the names suggest, you buy on credit and pay the bank at the end of the month.

Cancel your card immediately if you lose your credit card though. Transactions below $45 (sometimes below $100 depending on the card) don’t require a signature. So if the cashier is not alert, anyone can use your card to make numerous transactions.

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EZ-Link

EZ-link payments are accepted at Giant, Cheers and 7-Eleven only. The stored value card needs to be topped up once you’ve used up its value. Given that most Singaporeans use EZ-link cards for public transport, you’d think that this method of payment would be widely accepted. But nope.

One reason could be because unlike credit cards and Nets, EZ-link cards have no security feature. No PIN number or signature is required for transactions.

Note though, that if you register your EZ-link card online, you can cancel the card if you lose it. The cash value of the card, at the point of cancellation, can be transferred to your new card when you register it.

 

Using your phone

If you see the “NFC” sign and you use a Samsung phone, iPhone or Android phone, chances are you can pay with your mobile phone. All you have to do is tap your phone on the Near Field Communication (NFC) reader.

Image Mobile payment terminal, in Fornebu, Norway. Operated by NFC technology. Telenor. taken from Wikicomm user HLundgaard.
Image Mobile payment terminal, in Fornebu, Norway. Operated by NFC technology. Telenor. from Wikimedia Commons user HLundgaard.

Apple pay, Samsung Pay and Android pay are services rolled out by the tech giants that allow users to input their credit and debit card information into their phones. But it’s not the sensitive 16-digit card number that is stored. Instead, a separate, unique digital code is generated. It’s this code that is used during the transaction. This way, your credit card information is not at risk of being stolen by anyone who has access to your phone.

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay require either a fingerprint or PIN authentication for every transaction. Android pay only requires it after every third transaction.

 

Contactless card payments

Nets FlashPay, Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass are basically cards that you can just wave over a card reader to pay. No PINs, no signatures required. Read more about the cards here.

If you lose the card, cancel it as soon as possible. Otherwise, anyone can just use it until the credit limit is reached without ever getting caught. Contactless payments tend to be limited to $100 per transaction. Some cards however, do not have limits. Check with your bank for details.

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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by Brenda Tan

SCHOOL lunch times have been in the news – why are our kids having their mid-day meal so late?

I’ve taken to preparing a packed lunch for my daughter. It takes me 10-15 minutes in the morning.

I invest in good thermal food containers that keep food hot or cold for a long period. I also plan a weekly menu so that I’m not usually stumped for what to cook for her. Moreover, this menu is a guide that gives me flexibility. If we have lots of leftover from dinner, I can simply reheat and pack it for her as lunch. I also take note of her favourite foods and what works well for her meal and what don’t, so that the meal can be refined.

Here are some tips and tricks, and recipes, for packing a lunchbox meal:

Tips for packing school lunch

Tip #1 – Prepare the food container

To ensure that the thermal food containers are at their optimal temperatures, put in boiling water and seal the container while cooking. Then, when the food is ready, pour away the water before putting the hot food into the container. Do likewise using ice cold water for cold foods.

Tip #2 – Calculate nutritional value over a whole day rather than in one meal

While I try to ensure that the lunch follows recommended food groups and servings, sometimes it’s difficult to do so with a packed meal. It’s easier to remember that if the kids do not get their serving of fruits and vegetables at lunch, they can do so in a snack when they get home.

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1. Japanese cold noodles with dipping sauce

Image from Brenda Tan's Facebook page.
Image from Brenda Tan’s Facebook page.

My children’s number one favourite and very easy to make.

Ingredients:

Soba noodles (or udon noodles)
Katsuo Atsukezuritsuyu (soba sauce)

  1. Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Cool the noodles in ice water.
  3. Strain the cold noodles and put it into a cold food jar. Garnish with sesame seeds and cut seaweed.
  4. In a watertight container, dilute soba sauce with water.
  5. Kids can either dip the noodles in the sauce or pour the sauce over the noodles to eat.

I purchase the noodles and sauce from Daiso or from any Japanese supermarket.

 

2. Fried rice

Image from Brenda Tan's Facebook page.
Image from Brenda Tan’s Facebook page.

It’s easy to prepare the ingredients ahead and store it in the fridge. Cooking the fried rice takes only a few minutes and the rice keeps its heat very well for lunch as a balanced meal.

Ingredients:

Leftover rice
Leftover meat from dinner, diced (or marinated raw meat, diced)
Leftover vegetables from dinner, diced (or frozen vegetables)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 egg

  1. Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped onions. If using raw meat, cook the meat when the frying onions turn fragrant.
  2. Add the rice and stir-fry to break the rice up. Add the leftover ingredients or the frozen vegetable. Fry and mix the ingredients well.
  3. Move the rice mix aside and crack the egg into the frying pan. Stir-fry the mix again and incorporate the egg.
  4. Add pepper and salt to taste.
  5. Put into a warm food jar.

A variation to fried rice would be to make rice pancakes. Leftover rice and frozen vegetables are mixed with eggs into a batter, with a little salt and pepper. The batter is spooned into small round pancakes on a hot frying pan to cook. When the rice-and-egg batter firms up, the pancake is flipped and is done.

 

3. Noodle soup

Image from Brenda Tan's Facebook page.
Image from Brenda Tan’s Facebook page.

Noodle soup is easy to prepare ahead and delicious for lunch. The trick is to keep the soup hot in the thermal food jar and to add it to the noodles and vegetables when it is time to eat. My daughter found it easier to pour the hot soup into the noodles so I usually pack the noodles in a lunchbox that can accommodate the soup. This meal is good for older kids as it might be difficult for younger children to deal with hot soup.

Ingredients:

Cooked noodles
Leftover soup broth from dinner or use chicken stock for the base
Fishballs
Slices of fish cake
Leafy vegetable like chye sim, cut into one-inch pieces

  1. Boil noodles and vegetables until cooked. Drain and put these in a lunchbox.
  2. If using chicken stock, fry some chopped onions and garlic before adding the stock to give the soup more flavour. Add the fishballs and fish cake slices. When the soup boils, pour it into a thermal food jar.

 

4. Spaghetti aglio olio

Image from Brenda Tan's Facebook page.
Image from Brenda Tan’s Facebook page.

Another favourite of my kids, this only requires three basic ingredients:

Spaghetti
Olive oil (enough to coat cooked spaghetti, about 2 tablespoons)
Minced garlic (usually half a teaspoon for one portion)

  1. Cook the spaghetti in water, with some salt and olive oil added.
  2. While the spaghetti is almost done, in a separate large frying pan, fry the minced garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Drain the spaghetti, leaving about 1 or 2 tablespoons of its water with the noodles.
  4. Add the spaghetti and water to the frying pan. Stir to combine well with the garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Depending on the kid’s request or whether I have the ingredients on hand, I sometimes add chopped tomato or mushrooms, or even bacon to the spaghetti.

 

5. Easy macaroni and cheese

Image from Brenda Tan's Facebook page.
Image from Brenda Tan’s Facebook page.

Another family favourite, but for packed mac & cheese in the morning, I make a “cheater” version.

Ingredients:

Elbow macaroni (or fusilli pasta or any kinds of pasta)
Evaporated milk
Cheddar cheese, 1 slice

Method:

  1. Measure how much pasta could fit into the container. Then pour enough evaporated milk to cover all the pasta. If you don’t have evaporated milk, just use plain milk. The evaporated milk gives a creamier texture to the mac & cheese. Pour out the pasta and milk into a microwave safe dish and heat it up for about 2 to 3 minutes. (You don’t have to fully cook the pasta as it will continue to cook in the thermal jar for the next 4 hours.)
  2. If you don’t have a microwave, just estimate the amount of pasta and evaporated milk you’ll need. Boil the pasta (using water) until it is semi-cooked. Drain it and then continue cooking the pasta in the evaporated milk.
  3. Add a slice of cheddar cheese to the dish and stir to mix well. If the milk dried out too fast, just add milk or water to the dish. Add salt and pepper, dried herbs like oregano or basil, to taste.
  4. If using the microwave, put the dish back into the microwave for another minute to melt the cheese. If using the stove, just make sure to stir the cheese into the pasta until it’s melted.
  5. Put the mac & cheese into a thermal jar for it to continue cooking.

 

Easy and healthy snacks

These are easily packed into small lunch boxes for the kid’s breaks:

  • Nuts (eg. almond, peanuts, cashews). Buy in larger quantity. Pack the amount desired into the kid’s airtight lunch boxes to reduce waste.
  • Fruits (eg. grapes, apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit, melon, bananas). Fruits tastes better if cooled and kept in a cold thermal jar. For small fruit items like grapes or blueberries, it may be faster for the kid to eat them if they are skewered on a food pick.
  • Cooked chickpeas. I buy this in a can, drain the water and heat it up in a microwave with water and a stick of cinnamon. The chickpeas are then cooled before packing them into a lunch box.
  • Vegetables (eg. celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, corn cup).
  • Cheese sticks or cheese cubes. To ensure cheese keeps well, I usually put them in cold thermal jars.
  • Hard-boiled eggs. To make it fun, I usually use an egg mould to shape the eggs.
  • Sandwiches and buns. These are great stand-by for a quick snack box.

 

Read our other stories on primary school late lunches:

Why do our primary school kids have such LATE lunches?

MOE responds to lunch break story

 

Featured image by Pixabay user yujun. (CC0 1.0)

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by Michelin Guide Singapore

2016 has come and gone and with it, trends that delighted many, tantalised others and horrified some. What connects them all is the undeniable current of which these ideas flow: from city to city, from North America to Asia and vice versa.

After all, F&B head honchos often look across the world for inspiration. When a small gourmet butcher in Manhattan starts offering dry aging services for example, other businesses halfway across the globe are inspired to do the same. When a mixologist takes out spirits from his concoction as a challenge to create the same body without the alcohol, others too might be tempted to take up the task.

It’s almost like a butterfly effect that culminates into a trend. Here’s 10 to look out for this year.

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From left: Dominique Crenn, Alex Atala, Alain DucasseFrom left: Dominique Crenn, Alex Atala, Alain Ducasse

 

2017: A new breed of chefs
Chefs have long gotten rid of toques – the tall white hats that defined their occupation – but that has brought forth a thought leader who wears many hats. They are now entrepreneurs, sociologists, even designers and food scientists. It’s the direct result of two phenomena: chefs gaining prominence across the media with documentaries and Netflix series that highlight their philosophies, as well as more opportunities to collaborate. Think along the lines of communities like the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle which sees big names like Alex Atala, Alain Ducasse and Dominique Crenn putting their heads together with a mission to impact not just how we eat, but how we think about eating.

 

Passage to India – via Tapas
Indian cuisine has always been about its bold and proud food that you enjoy digging into with your hands. Now, imagine tucking into crispy poppadoms and dipping them into delicate little cups of spiced potato and chickpea curry. This is Indian food done tapas-style, over at award-winning Irish chef Liam Tomlin’s Thali restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa. Over in London, new restaurant Bombay Brunch on Croyden Street follows the idea of turning traditional Indian fare into bite-sized portions. “Generally, people are used to having a curry, rice and naan. But here, we want people to take a bit of everything,” says restaurant manager JaiminShukula.

 

A dish from two-Michelin-starred Shisen Hanten
A dish from two-Michelin-starred Shisen Hanten

 

Sichuan uprising
Cantonese fare has defined Chinese food in many of the world’s cosmpolitan cities so far. But the hot and sour flavours of Sichuan cuisine are fast on the rise. In 2016, Café China in the heart of Midtown, Manhattan, was awarded one star by the Michelin Guide to New York City for standout dishes like a succulent Chungking chicken that comes with a generous amount of dried chillies. In Singapore, Shisen Hanten became the highest Michelin-awarded Chinese restaurant with two stars for its mastery of Sichuan’s complex flavour profile that comes through in the mapo tofu, a deceptively simple dish.

 

The rise of the “Grocerant”
Grocery stores are grocery stores and restaurants are restaurants – except when the two meet and gives rise to “The Grocerant”. It’s a space where restaurants sell fresh produce that they cook with or where grocery stores have chefs to whip up meals for shoppers.While some might find the portmanteau cringe-worthy, more and more of such concepts are popping up in cities around the globe. One such is Eataly which started in (surprise surprise) Italy as far back as 2004 but now has branches from New York City to Sao Paulo and even Seoul. Closer to Asia, Plentyfull – an all-day restaurant in Singapore which has a small section stocked with produce brought in by Little Farms has just set up a shop in a shopping mall no less.Perhaps the fusion of the two was inevitable. After all, the US last year alone saw consumer spending in restaurants outstrip grocery stores fuelled by millennials who are more willing to shell out money for food rather than produce.

 

 

Gourmet butchers that do more than just, well, butcher
Butchers these days do more than just chop and carve. Thanks to advanced technology, the hardware for preserving and ageing meat means sleeker outfits with fancy chiller cabinets that display rows of hunky loins ripe for picking. At Salt and Time in Austin, Texas, for instance, the butcher shop offers full services from curing, smoking and dry-ageing meats, as well as classes on sausage-making and meat-curing. Over at Provenance in Notting Hill, London, the cool grey-and-brick butcher’s shop run by a group of young Kiwis and English provides ready-to-go charcuterie platters and marinated meats.

 

Vegetables as comfort food
While vegetables continue to star in haute cuisine, expect more vegetarian options in the form of comfort fare this year. Think cauliflower steaks – you’ll find this on the menu at Park Avenue in New York City – or a heaping plate of pasta made from shredded courgettes and butternut squash. Then of course, there’s ABCV by Jean-Georges Vongerichten of three-starred Jean-Georges. Far from the daintily plated morsels on fancy plates, the casual eatery will be serving up comfort fare like dosas, crepes and even rice with lentils.Elsewhere, the rise of vegetable butchers – Yam Chops in Toronto and Suzy Spoon’s in Australia – who share tips on how to cook, carve and basically appreciate your vegetables, also makes it easier to find more ways to get creative and using new techniques to kick up the flavour quotient. Need a good alternative to bacon bits? Try lightly smoked coconut flesh sliced and diced that’s as delicious as it’s healthy.

 

A Bowl of Pho in Vietnam
A bowl of Pho in Vietnam
.
Vietnamese food finds new fans
Ramen has had a passionate cult following in the West for years now but hot on its heels is Pho, the humble Vietnamese streetside dish. The dining culture is the same: noodles in a broth topped with slivers of meat slurped on with chopsticks but with the addition of fresh herbs.This familiar mode of eating means it’s easily being taken up in the West while gaining a whole new breed of passionate fans across the world. How else can anyone explain the furore that ensued when a US magazine featured a non-Vietnamese chef educating the masses on how to eat pho earlier this year? And who could forget that viral image of outgoing US president Obama sitting on a blue stool with chef Anthony Bourdain in a Hanoi restaurant with a bowl of pho in front of him, right hand cradling a beer. Those of us looking for healthier options to ramen without sacrificing the familiar comforts can surely toast to that.

 

The bowl becomes the plate
Acai bowls, power bowls, grain bowls. All these ideas are coming to a head this year as more people are opting to use bowls over plates either in eateries or at home.It could be the way we eat that has become a little more relaxed – think TV dinners or at a party when a bowl is clearly superior to avoid spillage, but at least one academic claims that the tableware that holds our food influences how we perceive its taste.

“I certainly believe that the plateware we use to eat from plays a role in what things tastes like,” says Charles Spence, head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford in a BBC interview. “Everything from the texture, the temperature or the feel or the plateware or bowl can fit into this.”

A dish from Twenty Four Seasons
A dish from Twenty Four Seasons

 

More Korean traditional fine dining
For so long, going out for a Korean meal meant heading to a cosy mom-and-pop joint where the atmosphere is convivial, the service is almost family-like and the ban chan (side dishes) keeps coming until you’re too full to move. Yet a paradigm shift has occurred in the Korean dining scene since the Michelin Guide landed in Seoul late last year.The spotlight has shifted to Korean fine dining – an idea that even Koreans themselves don’t seem to take fondly to, at least at first. We’re not talking about modern interpretations of Korean dishes here, but of chefs digging into the historical roots of the cuisine and bringing forth philosophies for the modern diner.Chef Kim Byung-Jin of three-starred Gaon for instance, has spent his entire career studying the essence of Korean cuisine and believes it to lie in its natural simplicity. “Many Koreans still think that a full-on spread comprising as many dishes as possible is the way to serve guests,” says the chef. “Although the visual impact of it may wow the guests at first, in the end, not one dish stands out. When there is a story to be told and that story is narrated in a way that connects the chef with his guests, then that to me is fine dining.”

 

 

Mocktail Mixology: No longer mocked at
It’s no secret that cocktails – no matter how well done – pack on the calories. But a night out might just be easier on the body this year as more bartenders turn their attention to elevating mocktails and stirring up delicious and healthy non-alcoholic drinks. Think the use of cold-pressed juices, fresh citrus fruits and light sweeteners like birch syrup which comes with an earthy smokiness that (almost) makes you think you’re sipping on a negroni.If you think this is a cop out for establishments wanting to charge high prices for no booze, think again. Crafting a glass still takes real effort and solid savoir faire. “In some ways [mocktails] take more development than an alcoholic drink,” says Sylvie Gabriele, owner of Love & Salt restaurant in California to Eater.com. “Alcohol by nature has body and kick and we had to really develop those flavour profiles to produce a full experience.”

This article first appeared on Michelin Guide Singapore. Visit Michelin Guide Singapore on Facebook.

Featured image Gwanaksan_Mountain_09 by Flickr user Republic of Korea. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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by Wan Ting Koh

TEN years ago, most people wouldn’t have cared about reducing their waste but things are slowly changing with Singapore shifting towards a more sustainable environment.

More institutions and businesses are attempting to cut down on waste. Starbucks for example, gives you a 50-cent discount if you bring your own Starbucks tumbler for your beverage. Last October, 14 hotels were applauded for their waste-reducing measures, which include donating excess dry food to a food redistribution organisation and using e-signatures for the approval of internal document. Meanwhile, NTUC FairPrice managed to save more than 10 million plastic bags in 2015 due to its bring-your-own-bag campaign.

Curious to see if it was difficult or easy, I tried reducing my waste for a week. It was more difficult than I thought because of a variety of reasons, including the lack of support, inconvenience and hygiene.

Using a handkerchief in place of tissues for example, seems unhygienic to me. I also found it hard to reduce waste in my day-to-day activities simply because the “waste culture” is so ingrained in the community. This I discovered during lunch when I asked for a glass cup instead of a plastic cup from a hawker uncle and was given an annoyed look.

It’s even harder to reduce waste during the festive season – which was when I carried out this assignment. Parties and presents both use a lot of disposable products, whether for convenience or convention, and I had to avoid using those as much as I could.

In the end, using the same plastic bag as I did for my first waste diary to store my waste, I found that I managed to reduce my waste to about half the volume I originally racked up from the first assignment.

Here are some of the efforts I took to reduce my waste for a week:

 

1. Using a handkerchief instead of tissue

Handkerchief and plastic glove
Handkerchief and plastic glove

This was the thing I dreaded the most, for the sake of hygiene. Using the same piece of cloth to clean my nose in the morning and wipe my mouth after meals was akin to accumulating a day’s worth of germs and dirt on that cloth. But I did it anyway. I borrowed my father’s only three handkerchiefs for the assignment.

Even though hygiene was my main concern, I found a way to get around stains as much as I could. Instead of wiping snot and other germs directly on the handkerchief, I chose to rinse my nose in a sink before drying it with the handkerchief. The same went for after-meal wipes. I would rinse as much as I can with water before dabbing my mouth with the handkerchief. The trade-off was that I used more water.

As for the plastic glove, I had no choice but to use it to cut bread in Cedele cafe. But instead of disposing it afterwards, I brought it home to reuse for the next time I dye my hair.

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2. Using a cup for hot drinks

15908966_120300001438921156_579146540_o
Hot drink tumbler

I used a tumbler for hot drinks in place of disposable plastic cups available in the office. The trade-off is that you use more detergent and water to wash the cup instead. And if you use it outside however, like in coffeeshops, there might not always be detergent available to clean the cup immediately.

 

3. Requesting for glasses instead of disposable plastic cups for drinks

15902680_120300001447240220_825296852_o
Glass mug instead of plastic cup

I decided to request for a non-disposable cup instead of the usual takeaway plastic cup at a hawker centre drink stall for a blended fruit drink. The reaction I received from the hawker centre uncle wasn’t very pleasant however.

When it came to my turn, I requested for my drink to be poured into a hard blue plastic cup. But the uncle seemed disgruntled at my request. He took one look at the little-used blue cups from their corner on the shelves and said it was too small, adding “You must think with your head” in Mandarin. So I requested for the larger and more unwieldy glass mug, which the uncle served my drink in (rather unwillingly).

This experience raised a problem. With hawker portion sizes standardised to fit takeaway disposables, it would be difficult for hawkers to accommodate their customers’ own lunch boxes and cups if those come in different shapes and sizes.

 

4. Using a plastic container to store breakfast

WTK Lunch Box Cropped
Plastic container

Bakery staff usually pack individual pieces of bread into transparent plastic bags before placing them collectively into a carrier bag, which is pretty wasteful. So, I decided to bring my own plastic container for my breakfast instead.

The cashier who packed my bread gave me a look when I gave her this unusual request, but otherwise complied. The only limitation here is if you are buying for the whole family, then you would have to bring more boxes to store the bread. In this case, I only bought one bun.

 

5. Reusing packaging for Christmas presents 

15857159_120300001448845290_981952426_o
Packaging reused for Christmas exchange

Don’t be fooled by the Swarovski packaging. It contained no crystals.

I used it to pack five chocolate bars for a Christmas exchange with a group of friends. I was pretty proud of myself for reusing the paper bag (which I found at home) – until I received another gift which was wrapped in fancy, pristine wrapping paper. More waste to add to my count. If I hadn’t found the Swarovski package, I would have probably used scrap paper or magazine pages to wrap the gift.

 

6. Using recycle bags/handbags instead of plastic bags for shopping

15878051_120300001439843638_628025763_o
Recycling bag

This was pretty easy because a recycling bag is foldable and easy to tote around and the supermarket cashier is only too happy to let you do the packing. The only packaging you’re wasting are the ones that come with the new products you just bought.

 

7. Bringing my own plate and fork

Plastic plate and metal fork
Plastic plate and metal fork

While others attending our TMG year-end party used paper plates and disposable utensils, I stuck to my own plate and fork, brought from home. The after-party clean-up is much faster if utensils and plates are disposable though.

 

This piece is part of a series that highlights the need to #ReduceYourWasteline, in collaboration with Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore. Read the other piece here: What a waste diary looks like

 

Featured image its gone to a better place by Flickr user Ambernectar 13. (CC BY-ND 2.0) 

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by Wan Ting Koh

IS IT any surprise that the only contraceptives most women know about are the condom and the pill? They might even know the varieties of condoms available since they are sold openly on the counter, and even the brands of birth control pills.

But a vaginal ring? It sounds more sexually erotic than procreation-prohibiting. Only 31.7 per cent of 259 women surveyed were aware of this contraceptive, according to a study conducted between 2013 and 2014 by National University Hospital doctors.

MSM has the results of the study, but doesn’t say much more about such non-traditional contraceptives apart from how some of them work. A vaginal ring is a small, flexible ring a woman inserts into her vagina to prevent pregnancy. It releases the hormones, progestin and estrogen into the body, which prevents the ovaries from producing mature eggs. Once in place, the vaginal ring is left alone for three weeks and taken out in the last week of the month.

Apart from gynaecologists, the ring, popularly known as the NuvaRing, can be found at Mount Elizabeth’s (Mount Elizabeth Road) pharmacy and costs $43.14 per box. Each box contains one ring. Now compare that to a minimum of $8 for a box of 12 condoms. Ladies, wouldn’t you rather get the guy to buy himself the cap than get you a ring?

The study also looked at women’s awareness of seven other contraceptives to ascertain the level of awareness and knowledge of contraception among women in Singapore, and to see if current measures to educate women on contraception are effective. All the women, who were between 21 and 49 years old, know of the condom, and 89.2 per cent were aware of oral contraceptives.

However, less than half were aware of five of the newer methods available. These five are: birth control patches, implants, hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), injectable contraceptives, and, yes, vaginal rings. Awareness of hormonal IUDs ranked at the bottom, with only 24.3 per cent being aware of them. Women ought to be aware of alternatives other than the pill and condoms, because they might be more suitable for their bodies, or even more effective.

MethodAwareness
Condoms100 per cent
Oral contraceptive pills89.2 per cent
Tubal ligation73 per cent
Copper IUD72.2 per cent
Implant48.3 per cent
Injectable contraceptive46.7 per cent
Patch 40.9 per cent
Vaginal ring31.7 per cent
Hormonal IUD24.3 per cent

Here are the seven contraceptives (apart from condoms and the NuvaRing) available in Singapore, and where you might get them. Note though, that all require a prescription from, or a consultation with, a doctor.

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1. Oral contraceptives

These come in the form of pills which contain a combination of hormones, estrogen and progestin, in your body when ingested. These hormones prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation.

Oral contraceptives are available at pharmacies and some GP clinics for a range of prices. You can buy these contraceptives after visiting a doctor for a prescription at certain Watsons, Guardian and Unity pharmacies. Pills cost between $6 and $50.

2. Implants

Birth control implants are devices that release a hormone which prevents pregnancy. They come in the form of plastic rods the size of matchsticks, and are placed under a woman’s skin – usually her upper arm. Implants are probably not available over-the-countertop at pharmacies, as they require doctors to inject them.

However, they should be available at gynaecologists or specialist clinics. GynaeMD Women’s Clinic provides Implanon, a type of implant, for $823, including the consultation fee and the device itself. Consultations range between $120 and $135. The implant should last for three years.

3. Copper IUDs

In case you’re wondering what they are, IUDs, are T- or U-shaped plastic devices that are inserted into a woman’s uterus by a doctor. The copper IUD is wrapped with a copper wire and makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm.

The IUD device has a plastic string tied to its end, which hangs down through the cervix into the vagina. The doctor uses this string to remove it. IUDs are a long-term birth control method that can last up to five years.

Copper IUDs are available at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s outpatient pharmacy for around $40. You can visit a gynaecologist to have the copper IUDs inserted as well. A procedure at Judy Wong Clinic for Women would cost $420, not including consultation fee and GST.

4. Hormonal IUDs

Similar to the copper IUDs, hormonal IUDs are inserted into the uterus for long-term birth control. It comes in a T-shaped plastic frame that releases a substance and thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching or fertilising an egg.

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s outpatient pharmacy has Mirena, a brand of hormonal IUD, for around $350. A procedure at Judy Wong Clinic for Women would cost $680, not including consultation fee and GST.

5. Birth control patch

The birth control patch is a small, square patch that looks like a plastic bandage. The woman sticks it to her skin, and it releases hormones into her body to prevent pregnancy. One patch can last a week. The more popular brand of patches in Singapore is Evra, which is stocked at certain Unity, Guardian, and Watsons pharmacies.

Unity pharmacies sell a box of Evra, which comes with three patches, for $43.15. Guardian sells it for $40 per box, while Watsons sells it for $35.70. Not all branches of the pharmacies stock the patches though – it is recommended that you call the branch before making a trip. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s outpatient pharmacy also sells Evra for $36 per box. These require a prescription too.

 6. Injectable contraceptives

The contraceptive injection is a shot that contains hormones which stop a woman’s body from releasing eggs and thickens the mucus at the cervix. Shots are needed either once a month, or once every three months, and are administered by doctors.

Dr Tan & Partners clinics provide injectable contraceptives for $45, not including consultation fees. Its consultation fee for its branch at Robertson Quay is about $60 to $80. Judy Wong Clinic for Women provides the shot for $40, not including the consultation fee.

 

7. Tubal ligation

This is a permanent form of birth control that involves severing the fallopian tubes so that the eggs cannot reach the uterus. The equivalent procedure for a man would be a vasectomy, where the vas deferens from each testicle is clamped. This prevents sperm from mixing with the semen that is ejaculated from the penis.

Tubal ligations are surgical procedures that are subjected to hospital and doctor rates. You can approach gynaecologists and specialist clinics for them.

 

Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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by Iffah Nadhirah Osman, Jonathan Leong, Glenn Ong, Lim Qiu Ping and Vanessa Wu

THE salted egg has been used as a key ingredient in local dishes for a while now, but the humble yolk has certainly become a lot more popular over the past few months. With more eateries and restaurants coming up with innovative ways to feature the salted egg yolk, it’s hard not to notice the proliferation of such dishes in menus across the island.

Here are 50 of them and where you can find them in Singapore:

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Image from Hana restaurant’s Facebook page.

Flying salted egg yolk udon 

The gravity defying Japanese noodles at Hana Restaurant are combined with a salted egg yolk dipping sauce and then garnished with curry leaves and chilli padi.

Price: $18

Location:

583 Orchard Road
#01-17, Forum The Shopping Mall,
Singapore 238884

Tel: 6737 5525

Image from Full of Luck Club’s Facebook page

Golden sand corn with salted egg yolk

At Full of Luck Club, one can order a side dish of fried corn with salted egg yolk sauce and chilli, with the sauce forming a crisp layer around the corn.

Price: $4.80

Location:

243 Holland Ave,
Singapore 278977

Tel: 6208 6845

Image from The Refinery’s Facebook Page

Salted egg onion rings

At The Refinery, these onion rings are given a hearty topping of salted egg yolk custard sauce.

Price: $13

Location:

115 King George’s Ave
#01-02, Singapore 208561

Tel: 6293 1204

Image taken from Irvins’ Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk potato chips

These aren’t your standard potato chips. Rather, they are coated with a layer of salted egg yolk crumbs and spiced with curry leaves, besides other ingredients.

Price: $16 for a big pack or $8 for a small pack

Location:

VivoCity B2-K25 (Walk-ins only)
Raffles Xchange B1 (Weekdays)
Westgate Level 2 (Daily)

Tel: 62643076

Image taken from Flavour Flings’ Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk croissants

Flavour Flings’ salted egg yolk lava-filled pastry was such a hit, they would sell out within half an hour, when the cafe first served them. The cafe claims to be the first to offer this delicacy in Singapore.

Price: $7.50 per piece

Location:

Blk 121 Hougang Avenue 1,
#01-1348, 530121

Tel: 6286 0051

Image taken from Sinpopo’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk cookies

Get your cookie and salted egg yolk fix with the salted egg yolk cookies from Sinpopo. The cookies are made with curry leaves in them too.

Price: $15 per jar

Location:

458 Joo Chiat Road,         Singapore 427671

Tel: 6345 5034

Image taken from Tom’s Palette’s website.

Salted egg yolk ice cream

Now, your salted egg yolk comes in the form of an ice cream too. This flavour is interesting as it’s surprisingly sweet yet you can still get a taste of the salted egg yolk.

Price: $3.60

Location:

100 Beach Rd
#01-25, Shaw Tower,
Singapore 189702

Tel: 6296 5239

Image taken from The UrbanWire’s website.

Salted egg yolk cocktail 

Operation Dagger bar invented this cocktail, comprising salted egg yolk cured for 24 hours in dark Venezuelan rum, sugar and vanilla.

Price: $25

Location:

7 Ann Siang Hill,                 Singapore 069791

Tel: 6438 4057

Image from NOM – Bistro & Bakery’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk rainbow cake 

NOM – Bistro & Bakery has your salted egg yolk cravings covered with its rainbow cake that has a frosting of caramelised butter, curry leaves and salted egg yolk.

Price: $8.90 per slice

Location:

400 Paya Lebar Way,           Macpherson Community Club Level 1, Singapore 379131

Tel: 6747 3839

Image is a screenshot from Fatcat Ice Cream Bar’s website.

Charcoal waffles with salted egg sauce

Fatcat Ice Cream Bar serves up charcoal waffles with a choice of ice cream topping and of course, salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $6

Location:

416 Bedok North Avenue 2, Singapore 460416

Tel: 6241 0830

Image is a screenshot from Sin Lee Foods’s website.

Sweet potato fries with salted egg yolk sauce

Sin Lee Foods cafe diverts from the usual french fries side dish, using sweet potatoes and topping it with salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $12

Location:

4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee,
Singapore 162004

Tel: 6377 3170

Image from Loco Loco’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk churros

Drop by one of Loco Loco’s pop up stores to try out the latest edition to its menu – salted egg yolk churros. Enjoy a cup of crispy and hot churros, drizzled with salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $6 per serving

Location:

Jurong East MRT, Admiralty MRT, River Hangbao (pop up stores)

Tel: 8484 0087

Image from Tart Blanc’s Facebook page.

Peach and salted yolk tart

Tart Blanc specialises in pastries. This dessert contains slices of peaches sitting atop a sour cream cake, with molten lava egg yolk as the filling. Heat it up and it’s ready to be eaten.

Price: $7.50

Location:

Millenia Walk,
#01-102, 9 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039596

Tel: 6238 6893

Image from Lepark’s Facebook page.

Soft shell crab mantou with salted egg yolk sauce

Are you a fan of crabs and mantou? Try out Lepark’s SEY (short for salted egg yolk) signature dish that comprises crab cake balls and soft shell crabs placed in toasted mantou buns and topped with salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $12 per serving

Location:

1 Park Road, People’s Park Complex Level 6, Singapore 059108

Tel: 6908 5809

 

Image from 7Kickstart’s Facebook page.

Liu Sha French Toast

In need of some good breakfast? 7Kickstart cafe has its French toast served with creamy and savoury salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $13.90

Location:

71 Bras Basah Road,
Singapore 189555

Tel: 8389 7877

Image from Mitzo’s Facebook page.

Deep-fried prawns with salted egg yolk

Like prawns? Like salted egg yolk? Chinese restaurant, Mitzo, has you covered for that. As the name says, the deep-fried prawns are laundered in a rich “eggy” sauce.

Price: $32

Location:

270 Orchard Road,
Grand Park Orchard,
Singapore 238857

Tel: 6603 8855

Image from Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks (NEX, Singapore)’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk crispy chicken

Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks chain is known for its crispy chicken; a slab of breaded chicken deep fried and dusted with plum powder and pepper. Now, there’s an additional topping: salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $4.90

Location:

At all branches

Image from The Golden Duck Co.’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk fish skin

If fried fish skin is your favourite snack, you need to give The Golden Duck’s salted egg version of it a try. Get a bite of the crunchy fish skin together with its signature creamy salted egg sauce.

Price: $7 per packet

Location:

At all branches

 

 

Image from Charlotte Grace Cakeshop’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk macaron

Charlotte Grace Cakeshop has the cutest designer macarons. This particular set is white, has salted egg yolk sauce for filling, and different Gudetama prints on it.

Price: $2.20

Location:

27 Kampong Bahru Road,
Singapore 169351

Tel: 9768 9827

Image from Three Cups Coffee Co.’s Facebook page.

Salted egg yolk and bacon spaghetti

Sick of your tomato and cream-based pasta? Three Cups Coffee Co. has added a new dish to its menu. It’s the salted egg yolk and bacon spaghetti, topped with cooked egg and a slice of lime.

Price: $9.80

Location:

1 Raffles Place #04-31,
Singapore 048616
Tel: 6438 4108

Image from Just Food!’s Facebook page.

Salted egg (fried) crab

This is the signature dish of Keng Eng Kee Seafood stall. The chef makes the sauce by blending salted egg yolks into milk over the fire. Curry leaves are added to enhance the taste. Then, the crab is stir-fried, with the salted egg yolk sauce mixed in last.

Price: seasonal pricing

Location:

Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-136,
Singapore 150124

Tel: 6272 1038

Image from BaliThai-Singapore’s Facebook page.

Phad Prik Tour (long bean with chilli paste & salted egg yolk)

BaliThai’s savoury dish takes crunchy long beans and stir-fry it with chilli slices and salted egg yolk bits. According to the Thai food chain, it’s a “palette pleaser that goes well with anything”.

Price: $11

Location:

At all branches

Image from Fish & Chicks’ Facebook page.

Chilli crab (without crab) and salted egg fish & chips

Fish & Chick is famous for the quality of their fried fish with batter, especially the crispiness of the batter skin and thickness of the fish. The fish is served along with salted egg yolk sauce and/or chilli crab sauce, all home-made.

Price: $10.90

Location:
531 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10,
Happy Hawkers #01-2429,
Singapore 560531

Cathay Cineleisure
8 Grange Road #B1-01,
Koufu Food Court, 239695

Tel: 9828 3490

Image from Diamond Kitchen’s Facebook page.

Salted egg sotong

Diamond Kitchen restaurant’s salted egg sotong is known for being crispy without feeling oily. The deep fried sotong pieces are dusted with spicy powder before undergoing a second sprinkle, this time with the salted egg yolk mix.

Price: $16/ 24/ 32

Location:

5000F Marine Parade Road,
Laguna Park Condominium #01-22/23,
Singapore 449289

Tel: 6448 0629

87 Science Park Dr
#01-01,
Singapore 118260

Tel: 6464 0410

Image from imakan_uwatch’s Instagram.

Seafood salted egg pot

From the Tenderfresh Classic restaurants come this recent addition to its menu. The seafood salted egg pot combines salmon, prawns, mussels and clams in a creamy stew and its flavour is deepened using salted egg yolks.

Price: $16.90

Location:

At Tenderfresh Classic branches only

Image from Bao Makers’ Facebook page.

Salted egg shrimp bao

Bao Makers creates artisan Chinese buns, also known as the mantou. The eatery makes its own buns as well as the salted egg yolk sauce. Bao Makers’ salted egg yolk dish comes in two versions. One, with the sauce poured over shrimps (stuffed in a bun) and the other, over fried chicken.

Price: $5.80 each (buy two min.)

Location:

78 Horne Road,
Singapore 209078

Tel: 6291 2330

Image from Big Street’s Facebook page.

Salted egg prata bom

Considered by food bloggers to be the first salted egg yolk prata dish around. The Big Street restaurant created its salted egg prata bom by wrapping a generous serving of salted egg yolk lava in soft prata dough. It’s satisfying to see the lava oozing out of the prata when it’s cut.

Price: $6

Location:

104/106 Jalan Besar,
Singapore 208828

Tel: 6100 2661

Image from Drury Lane’s Facebook page.

Creamy salted egg yolk eggs benedict with grilled prawns

Drury Lane cafe is giving a twist to the usual eggs benedict by using salted egg yolk sauce instead of hollandaise. The eggs and sauce are piled on grilled prawns and these rest upon wilted kale and steamed bun. A hearty dish for brunch!

Price: $17

Location:

94 Tanjong Pagar Road,
Singapore 088515

Tel: 6222 6698

 

Image from Dragon Phoenix’s Facebook page.

Triple Happiness Pearl (San he ming zhu)

The Dragon Phoenix is one of the oldest restaurants in Singapore serving Cantonese cuisine. Its poetically named Triple Happiness Pearl dish is made by stuffing a whole salted egg yolk and chicken liver into a ball of shrimp paste, before deep-frying the entire thing. A special order has to be made to enjoy this off-menu item.

Price: $16

Location:

177A River Valley Road,
#06-00 Novotel Clarke Quay (Liang Court),
Singapore 179031

Tel: 6339 3368

Image from faerylytes’ Instagram

Mini charcoal salted egg yolk custard bun

This eye-catching bun can be found at Min Jiang restaurant. The soft black bun is elegantly brushed with gold paint and filled with a generous amount of salted egg yolk filling that oozes out when you break the bun apart.

Price: $4.20++ for three (available on the a la carte dim sum lunch menu)

Location:

Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road,
Singapore 228221

Tel: 6737 7411

Min Jiang @ One North
5 Rochester,
Singapore 139216
Tel: 6774 0122

 

Image from dan_somar’s Instagram

Pumpkin with salted egg

This is a side dish from Honguo restaurant whose signature dish is Yunnan Mi Xian. The pumpkin is coated with thin crispy batter that has been mixed with salted egg yolk. Finally, the dish is garnished with spring onions. The sweetness of the pumpkin complements the salted egg yolk.

Price: $6.80

Location:

Bugis Junction,
230 Victoria Street
#B1-06,
Singapore 188024

Tel: 6884 4717

Image from lamesterc’s Instagram

Steamed salted egg yolk xiao long bao

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao restaurant came up with a salted egg yolk version of its well-loved Xiao Long Bao. It’s filled with minced pork (mixed with salted egg yolk) and savoury broth. The orange coloured skin mirrors the colour of a salted egg yolk.

Location:

At all Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao branches

Image from Prima Deli’s Facebook page

Salted egg cheese tart

Prima Deli kept up with the salted egg yolk trend with a salted egg yolk cheese tart. It’s 40 cents more expensive than its original cheese tart. But for salted egg yolk lovers, it would be worth the higher price!

Price: $2.80

Location:

At all branches

Image from The Pipe District’s website

Chicken wings freak out

Keeping with the theme of The Pipe District’s restaurant, the deep fried chicken wings are served in a mess tin. The wings are drizzled with salted egg yolk sauce that has been cooked with curry leaves.

Price: $10 for 6 pieces

Location:

45 Science Park Road
#01-09/10,
Singapore 117407

Tel: 6873 0143

Image from Little Drizzle’s website

Salted egg black sesame cake

The cake is Little Drizzle’s best seller. It’s a black sesame chiffon cake with black sesame frosting, topped with a homemade salted egg yolk custard and shortbread crumbs.

Price: $55 (6″ cake)

Location:

77 Aliwal Street,
Singapore 199948
Tel: 9664 1518,
8233 9810

 

Image from Burpple.

Banana salted egg yolk crumble

This dessert, by Milk & Honey Gelato, is made up of caramelised bananas, salted egg yolk crumble and a scoop of sea salt caramel gelato on top of a donut waffle.

Location:

Bukit Batok HomeTeam NS Clubhouse,
2 Bukit Batok West Ave 7
#01-01/02/03,
Singapore 659003

Tel: 9822 5043

Image from jacqsowhat’s Instagram.

Charcoal toast with salted egg yolk sauce

A signature of The Bakery Chef, you can mix and match the salted egg yolk lava filling and ice cream of various flavours to go with a charcoal brioche toast.

Price: $12.80

Location:

Blk 161 Bukit Merah Central,
#01-3711,
Singapore 150161

Tel: 6273 9211

 

Image from jacqsowhat’s Instagram.

Salted egg burger

Salted egg yolk sauce poured on a large fried chicken thigh with slaw on the side – what’s not to like?

Price: $12.00

Location:

Sin Lee Foods,
4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee
#01-164,
Singapore 162004

Tel: 6377 3170

Image from ladyironchef’s website.

Salted egg chicken with rice

Located in Sim Lim Square, this familiar tze char dish of chicken cubes stir-fried in salted egg gravy, served with rice and an egg is sure to leave you wanting more. Get it at Taste Good.

Location:

Sim Lim Square
#02-04,
Singapore 188504

Tel: 6336 6298

Image from ladyironchef’s website.

Salted egg yolk pork ribs

Famous for its Teochew fish head steamboat, the Tian Wai Tian tze char chain is also known for its salted egg pork ribs.

Price: $12.00

Location:

1383 Serangoon Road,
Singapore 328254

Tel: 9172 2833

 

Image from Burpple.

Salted egg pork ribs

Tired of the usual Chinese-style salted egg pork ribs? You might want to try gastro bar PARK’s take on the dish, which comes with a serving of fries.

Price: $29.50++

Location:

281 Holland Ave
#01-01,
Singapore 278621

Tel: 9721 3815

 

Image from Carvers & Co Facebook page.

Sweet potato chips with salted egg mayonnaise dip

Carvers & Co receives consistently good reviews for its meats and beer selection. The unique item on its menu is its sweet potato chips with salted egg mayonnaise dip. It’s even available in a large portion, perfect for a big gathering!

Location:

43 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428764

Tel: 6348 0448

 

 

Image from Burpple.

Salted egg cream puffs (Ménage A Trois on the menu)

These salted egg cream puffs from East Bureau are served along with black sesame and yam paste cream puffs. You won’t be able to tell which filling it is from the outside, creating an element of surprise with each bite. The light and crispy pastry is topped with coconut caramel. It comes in a large portion best shared among four people.

Price: $19.00

Location:

Marina Square,
6 Raffles Boulevard #03-03,
Singapore 039594

Image from Burpple.

Donuts with salted egg dip

Located at the HomeTeam NS clubhouse along Ah Hood road, FIX serves a delicious combination of fluffy donuts paired with salted egg yolk custard dipping sauce.

Price: $6.00

Location:

HomeTeam NS-JOM Clubhouse
31 Ah Hood Rd
#01-06,
Singapore 329979

Tel: 6256 1484

 

 

 

Image from The Chinatown Stall Facebook page.

Salted egg fried tofu

The Chinatown Stall sells fried tofu served with salted egg sauce in a cup. This is a great snack to have while shopping in Ngee Ann City.

Price: $4.50

Location:

391 Orchard Road
Basement 2 Food Hall,
Takashimaya Ngee Ann City,
Singapore 238873

Tel: 6268 8171

 

Image from Wan He Lou Facebook page.

Crispy lotus with salted egg

Wan He Lou restaurant claims that this dish was here before the salted egg yolk craze came around. Looking for new crisps to munch on? Try their lotus crisps flavoured with salted egg.

Price: From $11.90

Location:

65 Maude Road
#01-01,
Singapore 208347

Tel: 6294 8057

.

Image from Burpple.

Poached baby spinach with conpoy in century and salted eggs stock

This dish by Soup Restaurant does not have the viscous salted egg sauce that is trending currently. It has chunks of salted egg yolk cooked in the vegetables instead. The dish also includes century eggs and chicken eggs. It’s definitely one for the egg lovers out there!

Price: $13.90

Location:

At all branches

Image from Crab Corner’s Facebook page.

Fried rice with salted egg crab meat

A humble dish like fried rice is elevated when the recipe includes salted egg and crab meat. The salted egg crab meat could be served separately or mixed with the rice. The salted egg gravy also has hints of curry leaves in it.

Price: $15

Location:

1 Joo Koon Circle
#03-26,
Singapore 629117
Tel: 6333 6969

Image from Little Drizzle’s website.

Salted egg earl grey cake

Little Drizzle’s floral earl grey sponge carries a hint of five spice and is frosted with earl grey cream. A layer of salted egg hollandaise sauce adorns it and the cake is topped with torched marshmallows.

Price: $55 (6″ cake)

Location:
77 Aliwal Street,
Singapore 199948

Tel: 9664 1518,
8233 9810

Image from KEK (Keng Eng Kee) Seafood at Pandan Gardens’ Facebook page.

Salted egg flavoured Ice cream with soft shell crab and crispy toast

KEK came up with this dish to have ice cream the Singaporean way – with toast. It’s served with soft shell crab and a generous helping of salted egg yolk sauce.

Price: $8 onwards

Location:

KEK Pandan Gardens
200 Pandan Gardens #01-12, 609336 Singapore

Tel: 6694 3044

 

Featured image a collation by Sean Chong.

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by Lim Qiu Ping

AS 2016 draws to a close, we bring you the lowdown on what has gotten people in Singapore salivating and queuing up during the year. These are 13 food items, ingredients, and ideas that had customers ooh-ing and food establishments jumping on the bandwagon to offer the same or something related.

 

1. Korean fried chicken

korean-fc

Image Crisp Korean Fried Chicken by Flickr user Edsel Little (CC By-SA 2.0)

Yes, the other sort of ‘KFC’ which has been available in Singapore for a few years now but only exploded in popularity in 2015. In 2016, popular food blogs are still listing where to find the best Korean fried chicken in town. Looks like the siren call of crispy skin and meaty goodness slathered with viscous sweet and savoury sauce is here to stay.

 

2. Churros

churros

Image #churros! by Flickr user Lim Ashley (CC By 2.0)

First, we saw churros as a dessert item in cafes. And then, churros chain shops such as Churros Factory and Churros 101 started cropping up in the F&B scene in 2015. They are available even in our pasar malams, accompanied by local dips such as gula melaka. To date, the queue for this sugared fried dough remains.

 

3. Bingsu

bingsu

Image by Flickr user Lim Ashley (CC BY 2.0)

Shaved ice will always be appreciated in sunny Singapore. Throw in the Korean wave, the variety in flavours, fantastic designs and a bowl big enough to share; the popularity of bingsu has yet to abate after a year.

 

4. Light bulb drink

light-bulb-bub-tea

Image by Instagram User/ mr_mrs_p0tat0

Drinking from a light bulb is a new gimmick that has appeared this year. Bubbs, a Taiwanese bubble tea franchise which packages its drinks in a light bulb, opened a store in May. Then the Chicken Up Korean restaurant had a one-for-one light bulb drink promotion in August. There are now cafes providing their drinks in this adorable, Instagram-worthy container.

You, our readers, are the reason we exist. Your contributions allow us to bring fair and balanced news to everyone, regardless of the ability to donate. Support us by being our patron.

5. Seafood white bee hoon

white-bee-hoon

Image White Bee Hoon by Flickr user Zhao! (CC BY 2.0)

Take pan-fried bee hoon and simmer it in flavourful seafood broth – this is the basics of the seafood white bee hoon. Years back, seafood white bee hoon first appeared in Sembawang and today, there are a restaurants and stalls offering their version of the dish.

 

6. Buttercream flower cake

buttercream-flower-cake

Image 버터플라워3 by Flickr user D Story (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The baking community is wowing over beautiful cake designs using buttercream flowers. The concept might be old, but this current trend originates from Korea, where baking enthusiasts and professionals re-created the Wilton buttercream flower techniques and equipment to startling effect. Just check out one such YouTube how-to video showing off the craft:

7. More cheese

cheese-fries

Image Curry Cheese Fries by Flickr user Chun Yip So (CC BY 2.0)

Swiss cheese fondue was once considered the fanciest cheese dish around. Today, cheese fries can be found even in your neighbourhood bubble tea shops. Currently, Korean and Thai barbeque restaurants are upping the ante by offering melted cheese to dip your slightly charred meats in. And let’s not forget the cheese tarts from Bake that are still commanding queues.

In the upmarket scene, the cheese wheel rolled into town this September. No longer is it enough to sprinkle cheese on your pasta – toss your noodles in it!

 

8. Re-inventions of toast

toast

Image French toast @ Wired Cafe @ Harakuju by Flickr user Gullhem Vellut (CC BY 2.0)

Ice-cream melting over the thick Shibuya toasts caught our attention in 2015, and this year, the gooey-centred richness of Lava toast takes its turn to wow us. Meanwhile, kaya toasts are perennially favoured, whether through the chain shops or the hidden gems. One principle is evident: toasted bread is in, whatever the form.

 

9. Rainbow foods

rainbow-dumplings

Image Rainbow bites by Flickr user kitty chirapongse (CC BY 2.0)

The rainbow cake had its turn in the spotlight in 2014, and some say the fad has cooled by now. The colour idea, however, persisted. Currently, rainbow creations include the kueh lapis, pudding cake, pancake, cake in a bottle, liqueur shots, bagel… And there is also a rainbow cheese toast. It is hard to imagine rainbow foods ever going away completely, especially when they are so Instagram-worthy.

 

10. Foods with salted egg yolk

liu-sha-bao

Image by Flickr user Felix Chia (CC BY 2.0)

If even McDonald’s is jumping on the bandwagon, things are serious. They tried to woo taste buds with their salted egg yolk burger but the bar had been set too high by June this year. Since the Golden Lava custard buns came into Singaporean’s consciousness a few years ago, products infused with this ingredient have expanded to include meats and seafood (other than crab), cakes, croissant, jams, dips, chips and many more.

Related: 5 must-try salted egg yolk foods

11. Hong Kong confectioneries

egg-tarts

Image Crispy Egg Tart by Flickr user Azchael (CC BY 2.0)

Conversations of Hong Kong foods no longer revolve around dim sum or teahouses. It is their big-name confectioneries that are garnering raves. The Jenny Bakery brand with its famed butter cookies got the first foot in late last year. Hot on its heel is Mr Rich Bakery brand. Then this year, Honolulu Café opened and their egg tarts are often sold out quickly.

The most recent player is Tai Cheong Bakery, and their egg tarts also command long queues.

 

12. Superfoods

acai

Image G by Flickr user André Schirm (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Eating food, more than just about the items consumed, is a mentality and behaviour. The movement towards a healthier lifestyle continues and the market for health products is growing.

Known superfoods such as kale and rocket leaves are now found in our supermarkets and the aisles for health foods are getting longer and more plentiful. The 2016 superfood buzzword is acai and there are now eateries dedicated to whipping up menu items of this berry-goodness.

Related: Will acai bowls help you lose weight?

13. Omakase

jap-chef

Image Itame by Flickr user Japanexperterna.se (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Local customers have become more discerning. Today, having a Japanese meal involves more than scoffing down as much cheap sushi as possible or hunting down the best-tasting ramen.

It is now about the exploration of the cuisine. “Omakase” means “I’ll leave it to you” and it will be up to the chef to surprise and delight you with exquisitely crafted items made from seasonal products. Establishments that have managed to balance between quality and budget – such as the Teppei Japanese Restaurant, with their meal sets priced from $40 to $60 – could have a waiting list that is months or, if the customer is fortunate, weeks long.

 

What else do you think qualifies as a food trend in 2016?

 

Featured image Cooking by Flickr user WorldSkills UK. (CC BY 2.0) 

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earth by Kevin Gill

IT’S New Year’s Eve – the day signalling the end of a year while in anticipation of another. A sense of celebration and hope permeates New Year traditions the world over. But some societies have quirky ways of ushering the new year which go beyond letting off fireworks.

 

1. Denmark – Watching a black-and-white show, breaking crockery and leaping into the air

Image from Facebook.

The Danes have a few things-to-do on New Year’s Eve. It starts with listening to the monarch’s – Queen Margrethe II – speech broadcast live at 6pm. This tradition of the New Year Speech goes as far back as the 1880’s and during WWII, was a means of unifying and rallying the citizens against the German regime.

Then, the Danes will settle down to a New Year’s Eve dinner that will finish with a cone-shaped marzipan cake called Kransekage, which symbolises happiness and prosperity for the new year. Also on this day, Danes will go to their relatives’ and friends’ houses and smash their crockery against the door of their houses as a sign of affection.

As midnight nears, the Danes will watch a 18-minute, black-and-white English film titled Dinner For One. It is a comedy about a butler who stood in for the dead friends of his rich mistress at her 90th birthday dinner. The show had been airing annually since 1980, with the exception of 1985 (to great public displeasure that year).

When the countdown begins, Danes will climb up a chair and at the stroke of midnight, make the leap of luck for the new year.

 

2. Estonia – Eat up to 12 meals

Image from Flickr user Mikhail Petrov. (CC BY 2.0)

Estonians’ New Year’s Eve is basically a day of enjoying food. It is their tradition to eat seven, nine or up to 12 times that day. The number of meals taken would signify gaining the strength of that number of men in the new year. The tradition holds that the number of meals eaten represents the number of people whose strength each person will gain.

However, not everything on the table is consumed. Some food is set aside due to the belief that ghostly relatives might visit on this last day of the old year.

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3. Finland – Predicting the future by melting tin

Image from Wikimedia Commons user Micha L. Rieser. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In Finland, New Year’s Eve is the time to practise an ancient form of divination called molybdomancy. A small pot of tin (or lead, nowadays) is melted on the stove and then poured into cold water. The shape of the metal that is formed supposedly foretells the future.

There are various interpretations to what a shape can mean. A ring or heart shape stands for love, while a broken shape spells misfortune. A pig would mean good health, while a monkey warns of false friendship. A ship indicates a lot of travelling is expected to be done.  That said, it’s just a spot of fun while waiting for the countdown to begin.

 

4. Ecuador – Burning effigies, wearing colourful underwear, and toting empty suitcases about

Image from Wikimedia Commons user Etienne Le Cocq. (CC BY 3.0)

The people of Ecuador celebrate crossing into the new year by burning effigies of people they dislike at midnight. Subjects can range from unpopular politicians, celebrities, and even fictional characters.  These effigies are known as “Monigote”, which means “doll”. They are also called “Ano Viejo” or the “old year”.

The effigies are made out of recycled materials, such as old clothes, newspaper, or sawdust. Calling these effigies Ano Viejo is symbolic since burning them means casting away the bad luck and negativity of the old year.

Ecuador also has other New Year’s Eve rituals, shared by fellow Latin American neighbours due to their common Spanish roots. One includes wearing colourful underwear, believing that certain colours would bring a certain blessing in the new year. Yellow underwear would invite prosperity, for instance, and red for love and passion.

And if an Ecuadorian desires to do much travelling in the coming year, he or she would walk around the neighbourhood with an empty suitcase.

 

5. Romania – Dress up as a bear

Image from Facebook.

Romanians get ready for the new year by donning bear costumes and dancing in the streets in them. These parades are part of the Ursul festival, celebrated by the gypsy tribal communities across Romania and lasting from after 25 Dec, Christmas day, to the New Year’s Eve.

Bears are sacred in the myths of the Romanian gypsies and the activities of Ursul comes from the belief that they could ward off evil spirits. Those dressed as bears would pretend to roll over and die in a ceremony before getting up again, thereby symbolising resurrection and new life in spring. The Romanians would also compete to see who has the best looking costume and dance.

 

Compiled by Lim Qiu Ping.

Featured image Earth by Flickr user Kevin Gill. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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by Najeer Yusof

CURIOSITY led Mr Wu Jin Hui, 73, to teach himself how to play and make Banhus, four years ago. Since then, making and repairing Chinese instruments have become his hobby. Banhu is a Chinese traditional bowed string instrument which is popularly used in northern China.

Mr Wu has thus far sold 24 of his Banhus, for $200 each. He fashions entirely new bodies for his Banhus from coconut shells and combines them with usable parts from spoilt Erhus, which are another type of two-stringed instruments. By doing so, he adds a personal touch to his Banhus and gives new life to spoilt instruments too. The entire process of making a Banhu takes him about half an hour and here is how he does it:

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Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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by Ryan Ong

MANY of my most memorable experiences overseas come from crime. Because I’m chubby, travel alone, and have the combat prowess of a pregnant yak, criminals tend to pick me out of a herd.

“There,” they say to their friends, “is a man who won’t fight or run, because he knows he’ll just end up tired and broke”. Since my pain provides significant amusement, I’ll now rate the following cities in terms of quality of robbery.