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After luxury, budget and short-term rental apartments, there’s another type of accommodation that’s squeezing its way into the hotel market: enter, the “poshtel”.
The Backpack hostel in Cape Town, South Africa, is Lonely Planet's 2014 pick for top budget hotel. © The Backpack.
According to a wide sweeping trend report released at the World Travel Market in London this week, design-led hostels that offer high-tech facilities, free Wifi, en suite bathrooms, and luxurious designs are becoming increasingly popular among both leisure and business travellers alike.
Written by market research firm Euromonitor, the report pointed out that emergence of poshtels, led by brands like Clink, St Christopher's Inn-Village, Safestay, The Dictionary and Generator Hostels, is forcing budget and mid-range hotel chains to rethink their pricing and distribution as well.
Lonely Planet's pick for the top value hotel of 2014 is The Backpack hostel in Cape Town, South Africa, while Hostelworld.com gave Tattva Design Hostel in Porto, Portugal the top spot in the category of large hostel.
Though the report says that Generation Y — those born between 1981 and 1990 — makes up a key part of the “poshtel” demographic, the report adds that budget accommodations like these could also find a market in older age groups as well as the business segment.
The cold is not bothering many Elsa-wannabes this year. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
It's set to be a cold, cold Halloween this year as characters from Disney's 2013 animated film "Frozen" top the chart of the most popular costumes.
According to a study by e-commerce provider SLI Systems, Internet users in the US, the UK and Australia have conducted over one million online searches this Halloween season for "Frozen"-related queen, princess and snowman characters.
It looks like we're in for a Hollywood Halloween in general, with seven out of the top 15 costume searches relating to movies.
"Frozen" is way ahead, prompting 122 percent more search activity than its closest movie costume rival, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Other popular film costume ideas include the 'Minions' of "Despicable Me" as well as characters from "Maleficent" and "Book of Life."
The study was carried out by analysing search activity across 17 costume retailer websites based in the US, the UK and Australia from September 1 to October 26, 2014.
Here are the top 15 most-searched costume themes of 2014:
Stated in no particular order, here are our best picks:
#1. ORIGINAL FRIED CHICKEN
($22.50, serves three to four)
NENE CHICKEN, #01-24 Star Vista, tel: 6222-6363
Nene Chicken is one of the largest fried chicken chains in Korea, with over 920 outlets. The chicken crumbled in my mouth on first bite. The meat was moist and tender, though a tad oily.
BEST SAUCE: Green onion ($23.50, serves three to four)
#2. ORIGINAL CHICKEN
($15 for half chicken, $17 for boneless half chicken)
WOORI NARA, #01-02, 19 Lorong Kilat, tel: 6464-9282
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Bukit Timah, Woori Nara was definitely worth the trip.
Everything about their fried chicken was spot on – crispy skin, wonderful flavour, tender and juicy meat. They deliver islandwide (with delivery fees varying according to distance), but we recommend eating on location.
BEST SAUCE: Soya garlic ($17 for half chicken, $19 for boneless half chicken)
#3. CRISPY CHICKEN
($7.95 for six pieces)
4 FINGERS CRISPY CHICKEN,#B4-06A Ion Orchard, tel: 1800-427-4779
Well-seasoned and tasty. The skin was crispy rather than crumbly and not too oily. Choose the drummettes for juicier meat; the wings can be slightly dry.
BEST SAUCE: Soy garlic ($7.95 for six pieces)
#4. FRIED CHICKEN
($18 for half chicken)
KKO KKO NARAKKO, 57 Tras Street, tel: 6224-8186
Th e original version had a crunchy, crumbly skin, which was very flavourful on its own if a little dry. All chicken dishes are served with tangy pickled radish.
BEST SAUCE: Sweet & spicy ($20 for eight pieces)
This story was originally published in the March 2013 issue of Her World magazine.
Sweet treats are made of matcha, no? Image: Babette, Smoulder, Sun with Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe, Dessert First and Antoinette
Who wants to have leafy Kale or grainy Quinoa when you can enjoy equal health benefits from yummy superfood matcha? Not only is this magic green tea powder high in antioxidants, it also detoxifies the body, boasts concentration, increases energy levels, relaxes the mind and even helps in weight loss.
Naturally, these benefits extend to delicious matcha desserts as well — or so we tell ourselves — so feel no guilt while you indulge in these twelve matcha sweets we absolutely love.
1. WAFFLES AND PANCAKES
Waffle Slayer’s Matcha Buttermilk Waffle. Image: ST
I don’t know about you but to me, waffles and pancakes (and yes, they belong in one category in my book) are not just an enjoyable dessert but a classic comfort food perfect anytime, all-year-round. There’s little in life that can’t be cured with a good waffle or pancake (or more like a plate full of them). Add matcha to the mix and you’ve got a utterly delectable dessert on your hands. We’re not talking about a scoop of green tea ice cream dumped on top of your plain old waffle either, but waffles actually infused with the fine green tea powder like Waffle Slayer’s Matcha Buttermilk Waffle ($14.90) that’s topped with azuki beans and ice cream.
It's death by fluffiness with Miam Miam's Matcha Souffle Pancake! Image: Miam Miam
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try the famous Japanese cafe chain Hoshino Coffee’s incredible hybrid Matcha Souffle Pancake ($12++) that has the thick, airiness of a souffle with all the fluffiness of a pancake. Be warned that the queue for these popular sweets at Hoshino Coffee can get rather long though, so if you don’t feel up to the wait, head to French-Japanese restaurant Miam Miam where Matcha Souffle Pancakes ($9.80) are also served.
Waffle Slayer is located at 37 Kampong Bahru Road Singapore 169356. For more information, call 62224869.
Hoshino Coffee is located at #03-84, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road. For more information on Hoshino Coffee, call 63383277.
The Miam Miam Bugis Junction branch is located at #02-14 while the Westgate branch is located at ##01-21/22. For more information, visit http://miam.sg/.
2. LAVA CAKE
Smoulder's bite-sized White Chocolate Matcha Lava Cake gives you gooey matcha without the mess! Image: Smoulder
Molten yet fluffy, gooey yet spongy, who can resist the allure of lava cakes? I know I certainly can’t, especially when they’re infused with green tea. Get a bite of these oozing matcha goodies at the newly opened Japanese-French fusion restaurant Babette at $12++. For those with smaller appetites, you can go for local bite-sized lava cakes chain Smoulder with their White Chocolate Matcha Lava Cake ($2.80 per piece and $24 for a box of nine).
Smoulder is located at Raffles City Shopping Centre 252 North Bridge Road, #B1-68 Singapore 179103. For more information or to order online, visit Smoulder’s official website at http://www.smoulder.it/.
Babette is located at 165 Tyrwhitt Rd, #01-03, Parc Sovereign Hotel Singapore (207569). For more information, like Babette on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BabetteSG.
Image: Sun With Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe
Maybe I’m just being picky but I’ve always found Tiramisu a tad too sweet for me, even with the dusting of fragrant coffee powder. That’s why the Matcha version hits just the right note for me. The fluffy layers of mildly bitter matcha sponge cake takes off the sickeningly saccharine taste of the thick, creamy layers of mascarpone cream and balances the Tiramisu just perfectly. Trust me, I can polish off an entire slice of SUN with MOON Japanese Dining & Cafe’s Matcha Tiramisu ($8) all by myself. Fans of alcohol can also give L'Atelier TiramiSu’s dark rum laced Matcha Tiramisu ($6.80 per slice, $48 per whole cake) a try.
SUN with MOON Japanese Dining & Cafe is located at #03-15/16/17 Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Road. For more information, visit their official website at http://www.sunwithmoon.com.sg/sun-with-moon-wheelock.html and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sunwithmoondining.
L'Atelier TiramiSu is located at The Central @ Clark Quay, #B1-09. For more information, visit their official website at http://latelier-tiramisu.com/ and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/LAtelier-Tiramisu/562673593776094.
While Antoinette is famous for its macaroons, we prefer its matcha-flavoured mousse cake, Opera Matcha ($9 for a slice, $40 for 500g and $80 for 1kg). Made of green tea mascarpone mousse, chestnut cremeux, almond crumble and green tea finger sponge, Antoinette's spin on the popular Japanese superfood results in a light but dense Japanese matcha mousse cake.
The Antoinette Penhas Road branch is located at 30 Penhas Rd, 208180, the Antoinette Mandarin Gallery branch is located at #02-33/34 and the Antoinette Palais Renaissance branch is located at B1-08/09/10C. For more information, visit their official website at http://antoinette.com.sg/ and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Antoinette.sg.
5. MILLE CREPE CAKE
Image: Lady M
Nine years (wow has it really been that long) after the initial crepe cake craze, this Japanese-French dessert is still going strong here, especially with the arrival of Lady M, original creators of Mille Crepe cakes, in SIngapore just a year ago. With cream sandwiched between 20 layers of crepe so thin it practically melts in your mouth, it’s no wonder why crowds flock to the famous chain, particularly for the Green Tea Mille Crepe cake ($8 a slice). Dusted with matcha on every layer of thin crepe, the mildy and earthy aftertaste offsets the super rich and sweet layers of cream.
Image: Dolce Tokyo Facebook
If you prefer a good old sponge cake, Dolce Tokyo’s Matcha with Goma Black Sesame Cake ($11.50 each) is not only sinfully delightful, it’s also absolutely Instagram-worthy.
Lady M is located at Marina Square Shopping Mall, #02-103 and One Fullerton 1 Fullerton Road #01-10 Singapore 049213. For more information, visit their official website at http://www.ladym.com.sg and like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ladymsingapore.
Dolce Tokyo is located at 313 Somerset, #03-23. For more information, like Dolce Tokyo on Facebook at https://m.facebook.com/DolceTokyoSG?_rdr.
Image: Nana's Green Tea Facebook
While this combination of agar jelly, azuki bean paste and ice cream may sound ordinary enough, this classic Japanese dessert in fact harmonises a great mix of textures with the chewy jelly, creamy ice cream and smooth bean paste. Japanese-French restaurant, Nana’s Green Tea, serves their Matcha Anmitsu ($8.80) with syrup to add a hint of sweetness to the naturally bitter matcha.
Nana’s Green Tea is located at, Plaza Singapura, #03-80/81/82. For more information, visit their official website at http://nanaha.com/ and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NanasGreenTea.
7. SHAVED ICE
Image: Dessert First
On sweltering, muggy days (ninety percent of the time in Singapore), I would like nothing more than to stuff my face with a huge, heaping bowl of my favourite cold dessert — shaved ice. There’s nothing more satisfying, I find, than feeling the icy cold relief spreading mouthful by mouthful through your entire body, especially when it’s a refreshing matcha flavour. Grab a bowl of your own Matcha Shaved Ice ($7.80) served with azuki beans and nata de coco at Tsujiri Tea House, the 150-year old Japanese Tea House from Uji, Kyoto. Taiwanese dessert house Desserts First also serves Green Tea Snow Ice with redbean ($5).
Desserts First is located at 8 Liang Seah St #01-04. For more information, visit their official website at http://www.dessertfirst.com.sg/.
Image: Nana's Green Tea Facebook
The Parfait may seem similar to traditional Japanese dessert Anmitsu, with the same ingredients of azuki bean paste, green tea jelly and ice cream, but its layered structure, on top of the added crunch of cereals, puts it on a whole new level (and that much more Instagram-worthy). Luckily, this pretty matcha dessert is available in a wide variety of restaurants and cafes in Singapore, including Tsujiri Tea House, Nana’s Green Tea, Maccha House as well as SUN with MOON Japanese Dining & Cafe, with each place adding their own extra ingredients to the mix.
With so many Japanese cafes and restaurants, particularly green tea themed ones, constantly popping up in the Singapore, there’s no need to worry about running out of Matcha desserts anytime soon. Just in case anyway, I’ll be sure to stock up on my Matcha Kit Kats and Haagen Dazs's Green Tea ice cream (I'm dying to try Cornetto's version too!). Hey, a girl has got to be prepared right?
Healthy eating is the hardest thing to do. Hands up, how many times you’ve opted for convenient fast food despite knowing that you will regret this decision when you have to run an extra mile the next day? I can’t be the only one who has the pizza delivery hotline on speed dial, right? But between juggling work, family and my social life, who has time to slave away in the kitchen for a wholesome meal? Plus, isn’t it much easier to open a bag of chips than to toss a salad together?
Well, that was my excuse until I met superfoods. You see, superfoods are so called because they are packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants and more often than not, are also low in calories. Superfoods will help keep you feeling and looking healthy, inside-out and can be found easily in any supermarket. I’ve picked out four that don’t require any cooking!
Yes, healthy eating is easy like 1-2-3! Credit: Corbis images
The little blue fruits are the MPVs of healthy food. Flavonoids, antioxidants, soluble fibre, potassium and vitamin C are all found in blueberries. They help prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School has revealed that blueberries are also rich in anthocyanins, a kind of flavonoid that lowers blood pressure and makes blood vessels more elastic. These anthocyanins also aid in the anti-ageing battle by protecting the skin against harmful free radicals.
Tip: Have at least three half-cup servings of blueberries a week to reap heart-loving benefits. Don’t worry about using frozen ones – they are as good as fresh ones. Remember that the bluer the blueberries are, the more antioxidants they have!
These nuts are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, copper and manganese. Researchers from the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in the US have found that adding walnuts to one’s diet can help protect one against diabetes and heart disease. An extra incentive to chomp on walnuts are that they are highly satiating – you feel full longer – which plays a major part in weight control!
Tip: Just seven – yes, seven – walnuts a day will help you load up on all the omega-three fatty acid, protein and anti-inflammatory polyphenols you need, especially after a particular tough workout.
Here’s another superfood that helps with portion control – tiny chia seeds. Add them to any drink and they will swell to more than five times their original size to help your stomach feel satisfied faster. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, protein and insoluble fibre – the latter to help your digestive system running – the chia seed has the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, based on a study published in the Nutrition Research journal. That’s super news for vegetarians. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and more.
Tip: To hit your daily recommended omega-3 intake, all it takes is one or two tablespoons of chia seeds. I like to mix them with water whenever I get the mid-afternoon munchies.
Yoghurt’s known for being full of calcium and full of active probiotics that help both your digestive and immune system. Did you know that it has also got protein and minerals like potassium, iodine and zinc that keep the body functioning at tip top level? In fact, the calcium and amino acid content (protein) in yogurt helps keep your stomach fat under control. A study done at the University of Tennessee in the US showed that calcium will help with regulating cortisol production – the hormone cortisol is produced by fat and aids in the accumulation of more fat – and amino acids burn off fat.
Tip: If you aren’t the sort to chug down milk, eight ounces of yoghurt equals a cup of milk – and you need three one cup servings of dairy products each day. Not a fan of the tart taste? Add a piece of dark chocolate – chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa is another superfood that’s rich in flavonoids and antioxidants.
Wave goodbye to plastic lunch boxes or expensive Thermos containers that office drones use to tote their lunch in.
And say hello to electric lunch boxes, which reheat or cook food using steam.
Simple dishes can be cooked in under 30 minutes.
There are at least two brands in the market now.
Yoei Group Singapore, which imports a range of kitchen products, introduced the Yoei Electric Lunch Box here early last year and has sold up to 10,000 sets.
The lunch boxes are available at selected FairPrice Xtra hypermarkets.
A single-tiered one costs $49.90 and a double-tiered one is $69.90.
A local company, Kessler, which sells household wares and appliances, also launched the Kessler Multi- Function Electric Lunch Box early last year.
Mr Mike Chan, 50, a director of the company, says it has sold more than 20,000 units.
The company has a permanent counter at People's Park Complex that sells its brand of single-tiered electric lunch box at $50.
Lunch boxes from both brands carry the Safety Mark certification by Spring Singapore.
Apart from these two brands, which have a physical presence in stores, electric lunch boxes can also be found online.
A search for "electric lunch box" turned up hundreds of results from a variety of brands and deals at online marketplaces such as Qoo10 and Rakuten.
Other online retailers include S.O.T.A Innovation, Sparknet Retail and smaller blogshops such as Mingoshopping.
Prices range from $16.50 to $69.
These lunch boxes appeal to busy office workers with tight lunch breaks, small families who want to do minimal cooking and travellers who want to cook food such as porridge for young children while on vacation.
Managing director of Yoei Group Singapore, Mr Joseph Liew, 32, says: "Eating out during lunch is not as healthy as eating home-cooked food, and heating food brought from home using a microwave oven often dries up the food and makes it lose its nutritional value as well."
Kessler's Mr Chan adds: "Some people who live alone do not want to buy bulky home appliances. This lunch box does not take up a lot of space."
Owner of blogshop Mingoshopping, Ms Tham Kuai Meng, 40, imports Self-Heating Happy Lunch Boxes from Hong Kong.
A double-tiered one costs $33.90 and a triple-tiered one goes for $45.90. She says she sells about 30 sets a month.
The electric lunch boxes are easy to use.
Add water to the heating plate, place the food in the stainless steel bowl over it, clasp the box securely, plug it into an electric socket and leave it to steam.
The device will turn itself off when all the water has evaporated.
The Yoei and Kessler lunch boxes come with a measuring cup and guide on the correct amounts of water to use and approximate steaming times for different dishes.
Ms Sherlynn Tan, 37, a housewife, recently bought a double-tiered Yoei electric lunch box.
The mother of two children aged 11 and seven, says: "Sometimes my kids will stay back after school and I eat lunch alone.
"I think this lunch box makes it more convenient to cook one-portion meals for myself."
Whipping up a hot meal on-the-go are other reasons people are buying the lunch boxes.
Ms Chen Xiaguang, 60, is thinking of buying an electric lunch box to cook meals for her one-year old grandson while on vacation this month.
She says: "My grandson needs to eat soft foods such as porridge. I thought this would come in useful for cooking food for him on the go."
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on March 9, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
Name of restaurant: House
Type of cuisine: Modern with European and Asian influences
After eight years of serving quirky, comfort food, House at Dempsey is finally giving its menu a facelift – one that boasts elegant fare with a dash of kitsch. We welcome the refreshing change that gives its current fare a polished finish without compromising on the feel-good factor.
Ambience: Modern with a touch of vintage furniture. The floor to ceiling glass windows also provide ample natural lighting for that housed in al fresco feel.
Must-tries: The Pearl Barley Salad, $15, makes for the perfect precursor to all the heavy-hitting mains that are to come. The salad sees a surprisingly refreshing twist of pearl barley and crunchy sugar snap peas drizzled with herby marjoram vinaigrette and nutty red quinoa. For non-barley fans like myself, don’t worry, as all you can taste is a hint of it, nothing too overpowering. It does its job as a starter by prepping the palate while cleansing it at the same time with a mix of textures.
Those into something more flavourful can tuck into the Asparagus, Serrano Ham and Crumbed Egg, $22. The cured, air-dried Spanish ham packs a robust punch that goes well with the simply-grilled asparagus spears. Although the ham may be slightly on the saltier side, the marriage with the crumbed egg – poached with a crispy crumb coating (but a tad too bland on its own)- is one that will sit well with many.
For mains, give the Braised Pork Shoulder Rigatoni, $28, a go. The tender pulled pork shreds are braised to perfection making it just the right melt-in-your-mouth consistency. The rigatoni is soft and warm, and doused in a rich tomato sauce that has a hint of spice – it’s comfort food in a bowl.
Of course, for all steak fans, don’t miss out on the Hangar Steak with Croquettes & Wild Mushrooms, $27. The croquettes were nicely breaded and crispy on the outside while soft and warm on the inside. The generous chunk of steak was done medium rare style (kept nice and pink) without being too tough. Topped with the mushroom sauce made from wild mushrooms, the distinct earthy taste went perfectly with the tender, juicy steak. The sprinkling of greens on top was the icing on the cake.
If you’re not completely stuffed after all that delicious goodness, remember to check out House’ signature fries that are available in tantalising options like Carrot Fennel, Pumpkin Hazelnut, Taro and Curry. Needless to say, they are the perfect addition to the meal or to go with the comprehensive list of cocktails.
A much-needed menu update for a favourite food haunt that doesn’t compromise on quality or comfort.
House is located at 8D Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249672. Tel: 6475 7787. Visit www.dempseyhouse.com for more details.
How intoxicated you become when drinking could boil down to the simple choice of whether or not you mix diet soda or regular with your vodka or rum, a new study finds.
Men and women ages 21 to 33 who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had breath alcohol concentrations that were 18 percent higher after 40 minutes compared to those who drank the same amount of vodka mixed with regular soda.
Plus, after three or four drinks mixed with diet soda, subjects had breath alcohol levels that exceed the legal limit for driving. Those who drank regular soda in their cocktails did not.
The study, conducted by Northern Kentucky University in the US, was small: only eight men and eight women participated, attending three separate drinking sessions. But the findings do support earlier research that reached similar conclusions. A 2006 study suggests that artificial sweeteners in diet soda speed the absorption of alcohol.
Dennis L. Thombs, co-author of the latest study, noted that the stomach seems to treat sugar-sweetened beverages like food, which delays the stomach from emptying.
"The best way to think about these effects is that sugar-sweetened alcohol mixers slow down the absorption of alcohol into bloodstream," he explains. "Artificially sweetened alcohol mixers do not really elevate alcohol intoxication. Rather, the lack of sugar simply allows the rate of alcohol absorption to occur without hindrance."
The findings will be published in the April issue of "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research" and are currently available online.
A 2007 study found that alcohol was absorbed far more quickly when mixed with carbonated beverages when compared to flat mixers, such as orange or cranberry juices.
Access the new study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12039/abstract
While there’s no art to enjoying an authentic dim sum meal, there are a few dos and don’ts that diners should be aware of before they tuck into the Chinese version of a tapas brunch.
With the Lunar New Year rounding the corner, Chinese restaurants around the world are poised to be filled to the rafters with diners looking to celebrate with good authentic eats, including dim sum, or yum cha (“drink tea”) in Chinese.
To help newbies and veterans alike get their tea pot refilled without saying a word and look like a dim sum pro, here are a few tips on how to navigate the flow of carts and the cacophony of sounds that accompany any good yum cha experience.
When someone serves you tea, show your appreciation by tapping your index and middle finger on the table twice if you’re married, and just your index finger if you’re single, a gesture said to mimic the act of bowing.
Turn over the lid and leave it on the teapot if you want a refill.
Feel free to get a dessert dish in the middle of the meal. There are no set rules for mixing sweets with savory items during dim sum.
Leave a tip. Just because the waiters are coming by with carts doesn’t mean it’s no less a service. It’s common for Chinese restaurants to split tips amongst the servers.
Serve yourself tea first. Always pour your companion’s cup first. Otherwise you brand yourself as an uncouth Neanderthal.
Flag down just any waiter when you need something. Servers are assigned to tables so make sure you take note of the person who is taking care of you.
Be selfish. If there are three dumplings on a dish and there are five of you at the table, cut a dumpling in half so you don’t short a diner a dumpling.
Rush the cart ladies. Exercise patience and let them come to you with the goodie-laden trolleys, that’s the whole point of the yum cha experience. Swarming them will only get you on their bad side. And you don’t want to anger the ‘dim sum’ lady.