PEr FYI

March 31, 2018

Paul, Singapore…disappointing and misleading menu

Restaurants from big chains to independent operators increasingly lure diners with menus declaring their “organic,” “locally-sourced,” and premium Wagyu beef status. Restaurants have the right to advertise food and beverage products to properly identify them. To misrepresent menu items is a violation of what is known as Truth in Menu laws. The issue is that you really don’t have a lot of enforcement for false advertising.

Here at Paul in Ngee Ann City, it’s less lunch and more the incarnation of every Singaporean’s fearful suspicions about misleading menu. It’s verging on deceit. The smoked salmon on top of baked potato pancake in the menu turned out to be on pale, limp hash browns. Nowadays, it gets a little challenging to define some of these terms. That’s why it’s difficult to hold restaurants accountable who don’t serve what they say they’re serving.

In the meantime, I will be vigilant about the food I order by educating myself about the foods and phraseology . This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 30, 2018

Warner Bros Studio The Making of Harry Potter, London…an absolute must-see for Potter fans

A movie fanatic would always enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how the films were made. Unlike the theme parks at Universal, this is the actual studio where they filmed the movies, and actual props. And there’s no doubting that Potter aficionados will love what they see here, because it is the real deal. Potterheads rejoice!!

You’ll see things like the Great Hall (yes it was as dramatic as it appears in the movies!), #4 Privet Drive, The Hogwarts Express, the Knight Bus and the forbidden forest. If you’re really big on details, get the audio guide, note there is a cost but you can book it advance with your ticket. This is 100% worth the price. The highlight – which drew gasps from me – is the model of Hogwarts. Built to 1:24 scale, it was used in the exterior shots for the first six films. The attention to detail is incredible. Even if you are just a mild fan of Harry Potter like me, you will love this place. It’s incredible! Definitely allow a lot of time for this excursion but it’s truly worth the trip. I binge-watched all 8 episodes after visiting this studio.

If you want to book a tour, you should be looking to schedule a time slot about two months out, otherwise there is a good chance it will be sold out. There is also a large shop at the end where you can buy all kinds of Harry Potter and Hogwarts swag. Definitely don’t forget to get some butterbeer or butterbeer ice cream.

The tour is a must-see for Potter fans. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 25, 2018

RSM Muay Thai Academy, Bangkok…mastering muay thai in Bangkok

My Muay Thai journey begins in  a gym at Sukhumvit 55. I’m half expecting to walk into some kind of a sullen meatheads pounding punchballs. Instead I’m greeted warmly by the jolly receptionist and then a master who wasted no time in getting the session started.

A raised boxing ring flanked by swaying punchbags dominates the training space. We begin with some stretches. Thai boxing is a sensational way to keep fit and build self-confidence hence expect training to be physically demanding. The master guided us through fight technique and blend it with an inclusive, sweat filled fight conditioning class.
This is not a cardio kickboxing class. It’s a class that teaches you Muay Thai fighting while also giving you a great workout. Fear not though, you won’t be sparring or fighting unless you are experienced enough and want to.

I stepped out of the gym feeling buoyed. I’ve sweated buckets but instinctively feel I could now hold my own. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 24, 2018

Miss Saigon on Broadway, New York… pretty schmaltzy

Miss Saigon is back in New York. Known as “the musical with the helicopter,” it’s a tale of   doomed love affair between a young Vietnamese woman and an American GI in the last days of the Vietnam War. I am one of a whole new generation of theatregoers who never saw it during its run 20 years ago, and jumped at the chance to see it now.

Much of those songs are sweeping, melodramatic ballads. The likable and undeniably talented Philippines actor Jon Jon Briones, the show’s slimy pimp known as the Engineer is equally contemptible and charming. He delivered the stunning upbeat ‘American Dream’ number to perfection. He even threw in a joke about making America great again (something that surely wasn’t in the original script).

I can’t say I was deeply moved. Still, it’s a pretty schmaltzy show. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 18, 2018

Made’s Warung, Bali…the meal falls flat

warung (roadside stall) in Kuta in 1969, to one of Asia’s top 500 finest restaurants by the Miele Guide in 2013, Made’s Warung is the go-to place for decent, reasonably priced local Indonesian food.

Expect an extensive menu filled with traditional dishes from across Indonesia. A comprehensive Indonesian adventure from Made’s burger – burger bun, beef patty, lettuce, onion, tomato mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, beef bacon and chilli dog sauce served with French fries and tomato sauce to Mie goring – fried noodles with shrimp, beef, chicken and vegetables. But is it good? Well, no, not really, as you will discover when you sit down and eat.

It’s been in business for 49 years – so they must be doing something right! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 17, 2018

Lucky Famous, Melaka…affordable and forgettable

Most of the food at Lucky Famous is affordable and forgettable

The menu talks a good game and then, inevitably I suppose, the food arrives and blows it. They all tasted OK, but was too one-note, totally lacking special-something. The dishes were sometimes good and sometimes not, like playing mouthful roulette.

I won’t be compelled to revisit again and again. Only will drop in if I am around the area with nothing else more inspiring to eat. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 11, 2018

The Thai Café & Spa, Bangkok…the most amazing feeling

If you liked to be pulled, punched and stepped on, this is the place for you. You’re there to be worked on. And walked on. Your treatment will be half-ecstasy, half-exorcism, and if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s pretty great.

Khun Pop (#53) will gouge with knuckles and knead with fists, contort limbs and lean into elbows to loosen tendons and ligaments. It’s a kind of deep-tissue bodywork that can be so intense that some jokingly liken it to masochism.

The reward is you feel such a relief when you leave that it’s just the most amazing feeling. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 10, 2018

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London…100% worth a visit

If you are already planning your year end holidays, here’s how you can make your Christmas extra special and magical.

If you fancy some festive atmosphere, Winter Wonderland is an annual event in London’s Hyde park with fairground rides, Christmas stalls, markets and entertainment for all ages. Entry is free. This is truly a wonderful wonderland thanks to the sheer volume of what’s on offer. There are pre-bookable attractions that you can book online.

Wrap up warm for The Magical Ice Kingdom as it’s -8C in there! Last year the Magical Ice Kingdom presents an ‘Deep Sea Adventure’ – an immersive walk through experience filled with ice, snow sculptures and a bubble wall. Bar Ice is next to the Magical Ice Kingdom and this time it’s about -10C. Here, you’ll be given a winter cloak and gloves. That’s because the seats, tables, walls and even your glass are made of ice.

As it gets really dark the whole place seems to shimmer with light and it does indeed feel very festive. The food on offer looked tempting – including the usual bratwurst and German beer, to fish and chips, hog roast, minced pies and mulled wine.

They’ve got every kind of ride imaginable… Christmas coasters, carousels, waltzers and dodgems. They’ve got a Fun House which is four storeys tall! The Haunted Mansion is actually a mansion. Of all the thrill rides, highlight for me was Air Maxx. G’s all the way. My inner adrenalin junkie was truly satiated.

The Grinch would have a real challenge stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 3, 2018

Sari Ratu, Jakarta…simply too many dishes to choose from!

Immediately after I enter the place, sit down, a lot of dishes were served on my table a minute later.

Classic Padang style, meant putting a bunch of plates or bowls bearing different types of dishes on the table, allowing you to choose what you want. You can choose from beef, lamb, chicken, or sambal-swathed hard-boiled eggs to top your rice; Indonesia’s greatest hits: beef rendang, a spicy (an easy-to-abuse adjective around an Indonesian table), ayam gulag (special chicken in Indonesia curry) and Udang super (lobster) were my favorites. Portions are smallish (not that you can complain about much at this price) because the meat or vegetables are there as an accent, to flavor the rice. If you need something to quench the fire, order one of the Indonesian milk drinks, made with unlikely combinations like milk, grenadine-like syrup and avocado. Or grab a box of Teh Botol, a sweetened dark tea drink.

You don’t have to eat everything they put on the table. You won’t be charged for what you don’t eat. Untouched platters are taken away and served to other guests. Not everybody will think this is a sanitary way to serve food. Your dish may have visited a number of other tables before it lands on yours.

Cholesterol levels be damned. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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