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Itsara

It was a busy work week for both Stan and I, so we thought what better way to reward ourselves than to indulge in a upmarket Thai restaurant. After reading up some rave reviews and visiting its Facebook page, we decided to give Itsara a go. An intricate sculpture modeled after a prow of a Royal Barge greeted us as we walked into the lavishly decorated restaurant. We were seated next to the big glass windows and had a nice view of the restaurant garden, where according to its Facebook page, some of the fresh ingredients for its dishes derived from. The creatively named dishes was what piqued our interests and given the fact that the head chef is a renowned molecular biologists, Stan and I expected some creative and artful twists to the traditional Thai dishes.

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Seafood Char Kway Teow

I’ve been wanting to try making char kway teow, otherwise known as stir fried flat rice noodles, for quite sometime now. Back then, I’d seen one of my aunts attempted this hawker dish several times but it always ended up in a big sloppy pile. I’ve always thought that the secret technique to it was to be lightning fast in terms of your stir frying skill and that would take a lot of practice. However, that’s not entirely the case. After doing a bit of research on other food blogs and recipe books, I’ve learnt that the trick to making a decent bowl of char kway teow is to have all the ingredients ready and to cook them in smaller servings. I’ve adapted the recipe from Adam Liaw’s ‘Two Asian Kitchens’ cookbook and did a little bit of tweaking for the seasonings and changed the techniques to suit my own. If you’re not a fan of seafood, you can always add pork or chicken for the proteins.

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Gusto Food

It was pouring as Stan and I made our way to Gusto Food last weekend. Thankfully, the weather cleared up when we arrived despite it continued to be chilly. Unsurprisingly, the cafe was packed and there was already a line outside. Perhaps it was due to the rainy weather as the line was not as long, so we were seated within a 5 minute wait. The staff were friendly and service was prompt. We realised that cafes and brunch places normally fall short when it comes to keeping their services at a reasonable pace, especially  when they are busy.

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Day 16 – Disneysea!

Our visit to Disney Sea didn’t make us feel like it was our ‘happiest day on Earth.’ At least, for the first half of the day. It was our 16th day in Japan, so tension was running a bit high due to exhaustion and my sciatic pain, which I had no idea how I got it. Anyone who is thinking of visiting Disneyland or sea or any other theme park during the winter months, make sure to check the weather report before embarking. It was already a very cloudy day, and the weather gradually got much chilly as the day went by.

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Dry Wonton Noodles Recipe

Stan and I have been trying out several recipes from the cookbooks that we have bought a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, we often fail to take any pictures of them as we were usually famished by the time we finished cooking. If it were not for us hungry hungry hippos, then it would be our dissatisfaction with our plating skills or lack thereof. As a relatively new food blog, we still have a lot things to learn and improve on but that is part of the journey. Anyway, not all the recipes we tried ended up in our bellies first, we did manage to snap some photos of them. Last weekend, I decided to make dry wonton noodles for dinner from Adam Liaw’s (Season 2 Australia Masterchef’s winner) cookbook, ‘Asian After Work’. I have made this dish several times and the end result somewhat resembled the KL style’s wonton noodles, which the noodles are tossed with a dark soy sauce mixture but only a little drier. So, if you like it with a bit more sauce, feel free to increase the portion needed for the noodle sauce. I have also tweaked the quantity of the seasoning and ingredients a little bit according to our personal preferences.

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Day 15 – Disneyland!

When I was a child, my mum told me that she would bring the entire family to Disneyland if we won the lottery. Well, that day never come- the lottery part that is. However, Stan and I did go to Disneyland, though winning the lottery at the same time would be swell. We could have used the money to stay in the resort hotel and get room service. Perhaps, even buy the patrons a round of hot chocolate on this gloomy, winter’s day. We thought we were being smart by choosing a non-public holiday in order to avoid the crowds but we did not expect it to rain the entire day. Regardless, I was still ecstatic to finally visit the theme park.

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Day 14 – Asakusa/Skytree

It was a cold and dreary morning when we returned to Tokyo from Nagoya. Stan’s camera battery simply ran out on our last day at Nagoya, hence there is no post for day 13. We spent that whole day just wondering around the shopping area. We started the day early to catch the bullet train back to Tokyo. After checking into our hotel, we grabbed a quick lunch at a small, standing restaurant nearby. We’ve been to that restaurant a couple of times during our stay, whenever Stan and I could not decide on where to eat. The restaurant, as we observed, are mostly frequented by blue collared workers and the foods served there are relatively cheap, around 500 yen to 1200 yen, with an extra 100 yen for any sort of fried topping available, such as potato croquette and tempura prawns.

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Varsity Bar

It had been a rather slow month for both Stan and I. First, there was the release of Pillars of Eternity, so we had been on rotations, playing that game on his Steam account. It was then followed by the release of Bloodborne and finally Stan’s CPA exam. Besides doing our usual grocery run, we spent most of out free time cooped up at home binging on Netflix and gaming. However, we did manage to grab some delicious American style burgers at Varsity Bar, which was just a 5 minutes drive from our place. The American college themed bar, located at the Broadway shopping centre had gone through a few changes during our years as uni students. Before becoming what it is now, the bar used to be less lively and quite empty. With events and menu specials almost on a daily basis and student friendly prices, Varsity Bar is always packed and lively, especially during the evenings.

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Syrup

With the weather getting cooler and Stan’s CPA exam just around the corner, we have been staying in on most weekends lately. Besides gaming, I usually try to whip up something just to entertain myself while Stan is studying. His parents dropped by just a few days ago with 2 bags full of lemons from their garden. Since it’s usually cold in the evening, there’s nothing more comforting than whipping up a warm lemon cake, served with hot lemon syrup. This recipe is adapted from Women’s Weekly: Baking Recipes and Secrets from our Test Kitchen. The original recipe was meant for a lime cake but I substituted that with lemon.

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The Gaya Korean Resturant

Alright, it has been awhile since we last posted a restaurant review. Stan injured his Achilles tendon from playing tennis whereas I re-injured my lower back just a few weeks ago. With Stan needing to rest his foot and sitting more than an hour causes discomfort on my lower back, we have not been taking the time to try out new places to eat. Last year, we had a double date at The Gaya with two friends, who we have not met for quite sometime. The Gaya serves Western fusion Korean cuisine.

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