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Category Archives: Business trips

SINGAPORE: CATCH-UP @ CAFE IGUANA


Café Iguana
Riverside Point
30 Merchant Road
Singapore
$$$–

I very rarely meet up with friends when I’m in Singapore. Partly because I just don’t have the time, and partly because I’m damn lazy and too busy running around town to organise get-togethers. But now that my friends (and even my family/cousins are getting in on the action!) are now hanging out together in Singapore (yes, very sad, despite me being shafted off in China!), I thought I’d better get my ass in gear and get all of us together ;)

We wanted somewhere with good food, even better drinks, and in a great location that we could sit around in. So unfortunately, my clever idea of Hawker centers didn’t quite fly. In the end, settled on Cafe Iguana, some sort of Mexican restaurant/bar by the water. I’m generally not a mega fan of Mexican food. It’s nice and I’ll eat it, but I don’t crave for it like I do for McDonalds ;) The only Mexican food I like is Taco Bell, but that could be because I’m biased towards fast food. Loooove their tacos and loooove their cheesy fries! The fancy Mexican joints that I’ve been to just ain’t the same.

and I arrived fashionably (very) late thanks to the stint of wedding dress shopping beforehand with Mum. Sorry guys! Cafe Iguana has a nice chill ambience with slightly dopey waiters. We scored an awesome high-bench table that we sat at all night, and I can’t remember if it was airconditioned but it wasn’t hot at all. However that may have been affected by the myriad of icy tequilas we downed.. in an assortment of flavours like peach, mango, strawberry, blueberry, etc. I REALLY wanted to try the banana one but forget to order it, d’oh! All the (probably drunk) people tried to convince me “Oh it DOES taste like mango!” but nup, it didn’t. Loved the Strawberry one though.. if only because it was pink ;)

Was too busy talking to really remember the food. It was nice but not spectacular. I loved the Shredded beef wrap thing (can’t remember the name, too lazy to look it up!) in particular, and also the Sizzling plate thing (also can’t remember and can’t be bothered) that I stole off despite her silly proclamations that “I DON’T SHARE!”. Whatever!

Sadly, I was the 9th wheel during the evening. Everyone had a partner except for me. Sadness! But Chris was in India on his own business trip, and having a pretty miserable time there haha. We can’t ever seem to coincide our business trips to Singapore together.. it’s like the holy grail for us. So come on stars, align already!

Was ridiculously tired the whole day but still had a brilliant time. Photos courtesy of my* digital camera:

* Andrea’s and Merrill’s

Is this what a real Mexican place looks like? Who knows? It was cute!

That warm cheese dip… OMG………………..

Each man clutching what they love most

Tequilas + food

The boys, with flashing his single chest hair

Elliot is so ridiculously cute. Still trying to figure out way to steal him…

He even holds his own bottle!!! Friggin’ cute!

Looking like such ladies. Heh heh heh.

My favourite shredded cheese thingy. So good!

Avocado ice cream. Weird.

The girls! Minus my other cousin who rocked up late (yes, even later than me!)

I tried not to listen to the “you can get this in Shanghai for 1/5 the price!” muttering in my head

 

SINGAPORE: A QUICK STINT

Was in Singapore for a blink of an eye. My key learning is that in future, I won’t try and condense business trips across countries into 3.5 business days.. because I found out first-hand it’s enough to give one a brain aneurysm. At least it was a productive, albeit short, trip! Tried to squish as much food-eating as possible into the pitiful amount of time I was in the country.. but didn’t manage to accomplish what I wanted to do (or rather, eat) because my list was just tooooo long! Sadness.

It’s nice being in Singapore. It’s a big difference to Sydney, and again a big difference to Shanghai. Unfortunately, didn’t really get out much, sad to say! I got to see the inside of office walls 90% of the time ;) But that was the purpose of the trip anyway, so at least it everything went as planned. It’s been a whirlwind, glad that everything is sorted out now and the pieces are falling into place.

Just a few little random photos during my time there. Didn’t whip out my camera much, because wasn’t that inspired since I didn’t have much internet access (too busy), and lost my will to take photos to food-blog ;)

SwissĂ´tel The Stamford (the tall one)

The room. It was nice :)

Breakfast room

Singapore hawker centers – the food of kings.

Chicken Rice. Yayyyyyyy!!!!!

At TCC at Singapore’s International Airport. A sort of panini pizza with
turkey, assorted veg and loads of cheese!

Mmm… cheesy goodness

English muffins – one sweet cranberry based one, one savory one

The savory one was INCREDIBLE, I’ll get it again any day!

Oreo frappe. Probably worth 251312523 calories, but well worth it.

 

HONG KONG: GRAPPA’S RISTORANTE @ AIRPORT


Grappa’s Ristorante
Mezzanine Departure L8,
Terminal 1
International Airport
Hong Kong
$$$$-

Decided to have lunch at the airport before my Hong Kong –> Singapore flight, as for some reason I was stupid and forgot that I’d be served lunch too on the plane. Nevermind, 2 lunches for me can’t go wrong! Figured I’d try out some Italian food, since we don’t eat that often in Shanghai. Grappa’s Ristorante looked promising and popular enough, so decided to chill out whilst waiting for my flight.

It’s situated in the middle of the airport, overlooking the check in counters. The pianist on the baby grand is a nice touch, and service is attentive and polite. I settled on the Osso buco alla milanese – braised shank of veal with tomatoes, celery, carrot and natural juice served on a bed of saffron risotto because I just can’t say no to the word “shank” once I see it on the menu. Sadly, the veal came out dry – the edges showed that the meat was evidenty cooked beforehand and left in the fridge, so the surface dried out. They did pour sauce on top to try and mask that, but didn’t cover all the meat ;) I know this paints a pretty dismal picture, but frankly, I’m pretty sure most restaurants reheat a lot of dishes on their menu. It was actually not too bad. Some parts were tougher, but some were tender and was nice when dunked in the gravy. Still, I wouldn’t order it again since now I know it’s not cooked fresh to order ;) The Saffron risotto, however, was obviously freshly cooked and was awesome!

Hong Kong international airport

At Grappa’s Ristorante – fresk baked bread with 3 dips

Osso buco alla milanese – braised shank of veal with tomatoes, celery,
carrot and natural juice served on a bed of saffron risotto (HKD$215)

Millie’s Cookies, with a signature drink from Cathay Pacific (delish!)

Cookies brought back for Mum, Dad and I. I liked the Banana one!

Garden salad and duck meat + duck liver terrine

Pumpkin and ricotta pasta bake. This was delish! Served with their
signature alcoholic cocktail.. can’t remember what it was though :P

Cheese plate. Loved the blue cheese

And so, with that, I said Bon Voyage to Hong Kong and Salutations to Singapore!

 
 

HONG KONG: CRYSTAL JADE


Crystal Jade
Shop 2018-2020
2/F IFC Mall, Central
Hong Kong
$$$–

Crystal Jade is ubiquitous in Hong Kong (and abroad), where you’re guaranteed to get some fantastic, authentic food at decent prices. Established in Singaporean, it boasts a fantastic menu featuring Xiao Long Bao and La Mian (aka hand-pulled noodles) as their star dishes. It’s constantly packed out with a long line, and it was for dinner that I decided to get in the queue and waited 30mins to score a table alongside other diners eagerly slurping at their noodles and picking at their dumplings.

They waste no time getting your order once you’re seated and they plonk a big glass of steaming hot tea in front of you. I selected the Fresh hand-pulled noodles with mince pork and mushrooms in spicy gravy, one of their specialities. The noodles are hand-pulled there and have a soft yet slightly springy texture. They come slathered in a rich, thick spicy gravy with mince pork and mushrooms – incredibly tasty and so filling you don’t need much more. It’s served with a small bowl of plain broth which I like to scoop a little onto the noodles before slurping everything up.

I also ordered the Wontons in chilli oil because a trip to Crystal Jade just ain’t complete without their noodles AND their dumplings ;) It turned out way way bigger than it looked in the menu – 6 HUGE dumplings wallowing in a super-spicy chilly oil. The dumpling ‘skin’ was one of the best I’ve ever had – ultra silky and smooth, all slippery and encasing a generous portion of mince meat. Incredibly tasty, almost too tasty and spicy when paired with my noodles. Should probably have gone with the non-spicy Xiao Long Bao but I don’t regret it because these little wonton babies were amazing!

Really wished the noodles were half-portion and the wontons too, because I was staggeringly full between that, the bowl of soup, and 2 glasses of tea. Had to walk around the shops for half an hour afterwards to make all the food go down.. but well worth it, Crystal Jade is fantastic!

Blurb inside Crystal Jade’s menu

Pictorial menu, woohoo!

Fresh hand-pulled noodles with mince pork and mushrooms in spicy gravy
(served with bowl of soup)

Wontons in chilli oil

Massive and so luscious!

The brightly lit interior

 
 

HONG KONG: TSUI WAH RESTAURANT


Tsui Wah Restaurant
15-19 Wellington St
Central
Hong Kong
$$—

It don’t get much more Hong Kong-style than Tsui Wah Restaurant. I don’t know what the name means, but I figure it’s something auspicious since they have multiple chains and the one I went to was absolutely massive and constantly crowded. They’re open 24/7 and it seems they are always fully packed out. Glaringly lit, the large restaurant is more like a cafe, and is packed in with glass-topped tables featuring the menu under the sheet of glass. Very practical ;)

It was here that I decided to have my breakfast, as I was after some traditional fare to pad my belly for the busy day ahead. Was very pleased with my selections,because all turned out perfectly and was a fantastic way to start the day.

The Abalone, ham with macaroni in soup looked totally uneventful when served, but tasted oh-so-good. A clear and tasty broth that wasn’t too salty, lovely el dente macaroni, and slivers of abalone and ham to give a bit of taste. Awesome, healthy(ish?) comfort food. Had it with 2 lightly fried eggs which were just cooked so the yolks were all runny. Awesome cut up and eaten with the macaroni. Who doesn’t love runny eggs with everything? ;)

And, of course, the Condensed milk butter bun. No trip to Hong Kong is complete without one (or ten) of these babies. A toasted milk bun, sliced in 2…. and slathered with some butter so it melts in….. then drizzled with a generous helping of sweet condensed milk. OH HEAVEN!!!!!! It’s luscious – sweet and salty all rolled into one. I wish we could get it in Shanghai – or if it does exist, I haven’t found it yet. Man it’s good.. just looking at the photo makes me want to eat it again ;)

Also loved their Cold milk tea, which is really popular with the locals. Very sweet, creamy tea (I think they use condensed milk?) makes an awesome pick-me-up in the morning ;) An awesome place that’s minutes from the hotel and the office.. so will definitely be going back ;)

Tsui Wah Restaurant

Menu slid under the glass-top tables. Nifty!

Abalone, ham with macaroni in soup

2 eggs. Why did I take a photo of this? I don’t know either! Hah

Cold milk tea, and Condensed milk butter bun

 
 

HONG KONG: GAIA RISTORANTE


Gaia Ristorante
Grand Millennium Plaza,
181 Queen’s Rd, Central,
Hong Kong
$$$$-

Located on a terrace, Gaia Ristorante is a charming Italian restaurant, surrounded by trees and bushes twinkling with fairy lights. It’s in the same building as my office, and so presented the easiest and most convenient “I-don’t-wanna-think-I’m-too-tired” option for a meal after a frantic day at work. Part-restaurant and part-bar in the corner, the inside area is packed with suits and investment banker types – 80% of which are male. Boisterous and probably fuelled by alcohol, it makes it pretty annoying having to walk past them into the seated restaurant area and also when you go to the bathroom – be prepared to endure leery looks and sad attempts at trying to chat you up whilst you try to shuffle past as quickly as possible.

The service was absolutely outstanding, and everything was so prompt. Restaurants have much to learn from these guys. Throughly enjoyed the fresh bread basket, which was filled with an assortment of baked goodies. My favourite was a foccacia type bread, all soft and warm, dipped in balsamic and olive oil. Then came the amuse bouche, which was a sort of risotto ball – I completely forgot what was in it but it was not bad. Not amazing because it was slightly dry in texture and no distinctive taste, but you can’t really say no to deep fried risotto, can you? ;)

My main was the carefully selected Homemade blue berry fettuccini with Italian sausage and Porcini mushrooms. Blueberry pasta?!?! Hell yeah. Of course I had to try that out ;) The pasta itself, however, didn’t really taste like blueberry. Perhaps it was so so subtle that I couldn’t detect it amidst the other ingredients, and it wasn’t really blue-coloured at all. Hmmm. There was a generous helping of ingredients and I loved the really rich gravy/sauce that laced the pasta. The incredients and sauce were on the salty side, would have preferred it less salted so the flavours could really come through.

No dessert, as couldn’t stuff anything in since I’d had a big afternoon tea about 2 hours prior. Most annoying, since I was eyeing the Piedmont hazelnut parfait with white chocolate sauce. Really enjoyed my meal though, and will probably go back again next time I’m in the country and want to eat somewhere as close as possible to the office ;)

Gaia Ristorante

The moody interior, with the walls completely lined with Italian wines

Bread basket

Amuse bouche

Homemade blue berry fettuccini with Italian sausage and Porcini mushrooms

 
 

SHOPPING IN HONG KONG

So.. onto my Hong Kong trip! It was a whirlwind few days of packing in as many meetings as possible during the day, then dashing off at about 7pm to grab some dinner. Frankly, I wasn’t in a huge shopping mood (I know, SHOCKER!) because it was just so frantic and busy during the day, so all I wanted was to go home and sleep every evening. Still, managed to get some shopping in ;) I bought a few bits and bobs here and there, and on Saturday morning, I was determined to go for a huge shop and get my hands on whatever I couldn’t find in China (or which was exorbitantly) priced.

So off I went to Tsim Tsa Shui (geez it is near impossible to pronounce it properly… I wish they’d rename it something a little easier on the tongue!) where the huge megamalls and 13623432 side shops are. I went into the huge Harbour City mall (which is joined to 2 other malls, and combined is the biggest one I’ve ever seen), and SHOPPED UP A STORM. I mean, really shopped. I had a huuuuuge load and got ready to pay and passed over my Australian credit card (because I still can’t figure out how to get a China credit card). A moment later, the cashier said “Errr Miss, your card says Declined.”

WHAT!?!

My credit card limit is definitely not low or reachable (I didn’t ask for it to be so high, my bank just keeps raising it for the heck of it?) and I’ve not once not paid off my monthly credit card bill 100% in full (I cannot STAND only making partial repayments, being in ‘debt’ to a bank is my pet hate). So I was sure it had nothing to do with my account or whatever. But of course, the cashier didn’t, and gave me the shifty eye. Worse yet, the shoppers behind me gave me a sad look, like a “Wow.. this girl shops so much her bank cancelled her credit card”, or something. Major embarassment, not to mention piss annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grr :(

Unbelievably, I had to give everything back and go back to the hotel empty handed. This also meant I didn’t have cold hard cash on me, and couldn’t even catch a cab to the airport, so the hotel had to do some fancy thing and give me a cash advance. *facepalm*

So later when I called my Aussie bank, grumpy as all hell, I was told that they blocked my card because of some fraud risk. Apparently I was one of the UNLUCKY ones that had my credit card number compromised.. so the bank shut down all these compromised cards. I’m cool with that, in fact, that’s a great service… but WHY OH WHY do they have to give the message “Declined” on the casher’s control panel?? Why can’t it say “Security – please call bank” or something? Well, that kinda sounds dodgy too. Hmm.. I can’t think of a non-dodgy message? Haha.

Sooo the long and short of it is, I didn’t end up buying all the stuff I wanted to in Hong Kong. Possibly a blessing in disguise because I probably saved an extraordinary amount of money (part of which included savings of a Chanel lambskin bag that I was eyeing but couldn’t buy). Still, depressing! Looking forward to going back to shop properly ;)

Red and gold interior of the Hotel Kan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong

Corner desk in the Hong Kong office, overlooking the city

These prawn noodles I found downstairs. They look a bit blah
but man they were good! The best I’ve had in ages…. *slurps*

Crazy nightlife with shops and pubs all mushed together.
As you can see, it’s like an expat hotspot..

Random beauty stuff from Sasa, one of my favourite skincare/cosmetic stores

Hello Kitty lipbalm, for MAC Cosmetics. Tooooo cute, and it looks great on!

Aerosoles – yes, an American brand but they’re not available here. Soft sueded lining on
extra cushioned footbed and a flexible rubber sole. What more could you want?!?!

This one’s good for work. Yes, I’m fully aware I threw out 2 cartons of shoes
so you don’t need to remind me! These two pairs were totally necessary ;)

 
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Posted by on 5 April 2009 (Sun) in Business trips, Fashion, Hong Kong, Uncategorized