Atari-ya, London

at long last, the day has come when i finally decide that this update drought has been going on for far too long, and am jolted into taking action to revive this space… hello, it’s been a while, but i can never stay away for long, and am back in action! thought chinese new year was a pretty apt time to do this – new year new beginnings, eh? 🙂 (gong xi fa cai, everybody!)

its been close to 6 weeks since i’ve started my final term (yes, you read that right – FINAL TERM :O đŸ˜„ 😩 ) and close to the end of my final reading week (yes again – FINAL reading week đŸ˜„ ) here in london, and needless to say, my imminent departure from this city i have come to love has resulted in me venturing out to feast with unbridled fervour. i’ve been on quite a roll (i use this not merely in the figurative sense of the word 😛 ) and good things definitely need to be shared, so here i am 🙂

what better way to kick off this renewed updating enthusiasm than with a post about a meal shared with a certain someone who likes to go by the coveted title of “co-founder and non-executive editor” of this blog? 😉 may i direct your attention to the photo on the right of the banner that heads this page – indeed, last week, i had the privilege of dining with none other than the elusive mr nic hsien. (may or may not be the reason why i was inspired to get back to this space; it’s always a good time eating with him 🙂 )

i was recently hit with a serious sashimi craving – no thanks to my parents’ enthusiastic sharing of pictures of their omakase meals back home… – so our lunch venue of choice was atari-ya, the oft raved about sushi bar along james street aka (alleged) supplier of fresh fish supplies to fancy restaurants around london, nobu and the like. no idea what took us both so long to give this hole-in-the-wall sushi bar a try, but boy am i glad we did just shy of the midpoint of my final term in london rather than on the day just before i board the plane home for and say sayonara to london for good (are you feelin’ them #finalyearfeels that i have been plagued with of late?)…

the james street branch of atari-ya is the perfect post-shopping sushi stop. located literally a stone’s throw away from selfridges and operating largely as a takeaway shop, it occupies a space just large enough for a sushi counter and a handful of 2-seater tables.20150209_135913this picture was taken at lunchtime on a monday afternoon and as you can see, it gets pretty crowded (with plenty of asians no less; #signsoflegitimacy), so its best to get there early. we reached at noon and were happy we did because as we very happily savoured our slivers of fish, we heard people being told that they would have to wait half an hour for their food to be prepared.

i didn’t even need to look at the menu to know what i wanted to order; i had set my sights (and tummy) on the super deluxe chirashi and rainbow roll from the moment we decided to check this place out. it was an oddly long wait for our food considering we were early and there was only 1 other customer in the shop who was already served her food. we gathered that it was a combination of the fact that they were busy preparing orders which were placed by phone and that they were pretty slow-moving with this sushi-making business in general, with the scales of probability leaning heavily towards the latter. all qualms about the aforementioned inefficiency were forgotten once we were served with our food though:
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super deluxe chirashi – ÂŁ16.50
i hereby present to you the best chirashi bowl i have had on this side of the world, by far. by best i mean that it has the winning combination of extremely fresh fish and a wonderfully generous portion – amazingly value-for-money and guaranteeing satisfaction. ÂŁ16.50 may sound steep for a hole-in-the-wall takeaway shop like that, but you soon learn that the price is warranted (or more than warranted, i dare say) as each bowl of this super deluxe chirashi comes brimming with tuna, salmon, horse mackerel, sea bass, sea bream, boiled prawn, sweet prawn, crab stick, crab meat, scallop, vinegared mackerel, ikura, tobikko, negitoro (or uni aka sea urchin, depending on what is available that day), tamago, and some other stuff which i couldn’t quite identify but were delicious anyway.

not only is the fish extremely fresh, smooth and naturally sweet, the slices are of just the right thickness such that they retain a satisfying bite and facilitate maximum appreciation of their goodness. of course the star of any chirashi bowl is the fish but the rice here is also worth mentioning. dressed in eel sauce and topped with a sprinkling of an assortment of pickled toppings such as mushrooms, it was a great accompaniment to the fish.

the bowl is huge and if you aren’t as greedy as we are, i think it could even be shared between 2 people if you’re planning on ordering a range of other rolls and such as sides. but then again, although sharing is caring and all good things should be shared, i doubt i’ll be sharing my chirashi bowl with anyone anytime soon… all. mine. yas. 😛

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rainbow roll – ÂŁ7.00
we also ordered a rainbow roll to share between us. the sushi rice was lovely – soft, moist and held its form very well even when i bit half the sushi rather than devoured the whole thing (good things ought to be slowly savoured). once again, the fish in the rolls was top quality and toppings to rice ratio was golden.

needless to say, we left extremely satisfied and vowed to return again soon. i’ve been wondering whether there is a super super deluxe chirashi bowl and if so, what amazing goodies it will contain but for now, the super deluxe chirashi bowl is more than enough to satisfy the sashimi monster in me… definitely the kind of fishy business i love 😉

Atari-Ya Sushi Bar
20 James Street,
London W1U 1EH

PS. they have other outlets and they are proper sit-down restaurants so if you’re looking for somewhere with better ambience, you might want to head there instead. check them out here.

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The Daily Cut, Singapore

amidst the myriad of salad shops in the cbd catering to the increasingly health-conscious office crowd looking to fight post-lunch food comas, the daily cut stands out from the crowd with its different take on the regular green salad.

eagerly counted down the minutes till lunch when i could go check this exciting new place out (#internlife), and arrived in the newly-renovated basement of one raffles place at about 1245pm on tuesday afternoon, greeted by a queue at the counter and a bunch of people waiting for their numbers to be called for collection of their food.
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as you can see from the pictures, the daily cut is an ultra fuss-free set-up, so simply “decorated” (in inverted commas because its not really decorated at all hahaha) that it almost looks like a temporary store that’s waiting to move into proper premises! there are no walls properly demarcating the shop space, and the sign is rather inconspicuous unless you look up and crane your neck purposefully. i like the fact that they have a small seating area with way more seats than many other salad establishments in the cbd. their ordering system is also rather efficient – you fill in a form like the one in the picture below, bring it to the counter to place your order and pay, and finally wait for your little salad (though i’m not sure if its still considered a salad given that the focus is on the protein/meats) box to be prepared.

here’s the order form which also serves as the menu:
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at the counter, you can see the staff at work putting together each box according to the orders received:
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meats to satisfy the carnivores out there
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veg mmm…

we had to wait pretty long (10-15 minutes) for our numbers to be called; we were actually starting to wonder if our orders had been somehow lost in the mix! but soon our yummy boxes were ready for our collection, calling out to us to tuck in.
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sirloin steak + romaine lettuce + edamame + sous vide egg + mushrooms (ginger ponzu dressing)

this was my box – i was super pleased with how everything tasted together (though it doesn’t look all that appetising i know)! we were all quite impressed with the ingredients that were used; they were clearly of a good quality and very fresh. the sirloin steak was excellent – perfectly medium rare, juicy, moist and very tender; most definitely worth the $1 extra to order this! the romaine lettuce was fresh, the mushrooms (hidden but you can just about make them out in the bottom right corner) were sauteed very deliciously and the sous vide egg was poached to absolute perfection (amazing egg yolk waiting to explode also hidden here, unfortunately). i also really enjoyed the ginger ponzu dressing which was refreshing and light.

my friend for a large-sized one that came with 2 proteins:
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chicken thigh + tofu + brown rice + parmesan + sous vide egg + avocado (ginger ponzu dressing)

i didn’t try the chicken thigh but my friend mentioned that it was a little dry. i did try the tofu though, and it was more like tau kwa rather than soft/silky/smooth tofu. it would have been pretty tasteless if not for the subtle chargrilled taste that made it much better (you can see the grill marks on the tofu pieces in the picture above). note that this is the only protein option available for vegetarians.

think this was the most appetising-looking/prettiest salad of our party of 3 that day:
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sirloin steak + sweet potato + sweet corn + almonds + sous vide egg (thai dressing)

the sweet potato was grilled very nicely and the subtle chargrilled taste lingered and really complemented the natural sweetness of the huge chunks. this was another great combi of toppings – a good mix of textures and flavours.

we all left with our boxes wiped clean, feeling satisfied and surprisingly quite full! the portions are quite generous (especially the proteins) yet don’t leave you feeling like you’re on the brink of entering a food coma. i really enjoyed what i had and the best part is that its pretty healthy eating! lots of protein (perfect post-gym meal) and a great alternative to the regular salad bowls which are full of greens with no meat in sight (this is definitely a draw for males; i noticed significantly more males here compared to other salad places around raffles place). another great thing is that you can mix and match the proteins/toppings/carbs such that you can eat here all day every day and never get bored…

that said, i think it is actually slightly pricey even for the generous servings and good quality ingredients that you get. but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from making a beeline for them at lunch hour, including myself – might just have to make another trip down for lunch before my current internship ends in a mere two days! already getting excited about what to pick this time 😛

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The Daily Cut
1 Raffles Place, #B1-31, One Raffles Place
Singapore 048616

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PS. matt’s chocolate shop is just round the corner and we couldn’t resist getting some chocolate fudge cake for dessert:
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small fudge cake – $4
having heard so much about it, i had very high expectations and though i wouldn’t say i was disappointed, the cake didn’t quite blow my mind either. they heated it up in the microwave for us (check out the glistening dark chocolate layer on top mmm…) – made it look yummier than ever eh? the cake itself was extremely moist and rich, without being overly dense or sickly sweet and chocolate-y. in fact, i would say despite being so chocolate-y, it managed to remain rather light! pretty good stuff (Y)

Riverwalk Tandoor, Singapore

had a massive craving for indian food after a friend sent me a snap of her devouring naan and butter chicken over the weekend, so it was indian food my friends and i ventured out in search of when we met for dinner last night. i was rather impressed with the food and so decided that i had to write about it pronto before the smell of freshly-made naan and curries escapes me and fades from my memories 😛

we were recommended riverwalk tandoor by an indian friend (legit recommendation right here 😉 ) and i was mighty pleased to find that they do a super reasonably priced buffet – $15.90++ for lunch and $18.90++ for dinner; free flow naan, here we come!!! conveniently located just across the road from the central (ie clarke quay mrt station) in a corner unit facing the river on the ground floor of the riverwalk, the restaurant was completely empty when i arrived at 630pm, totally different from the scene at jumbo seafood right next door where there was already a line of people eagerly awaiting a seafood fix.
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the restaurant looks quite traditionally indian, and is spacious and comfortable. because of the space and number of tables, i think this would make a great place for a group gathering! the buffet spread is on one side of the restaurant, and once i stepped in they started opening the food covers to reveal yummy food within (i must have looked starving) mmmmmm… i immediately got to work and managed to snap pics of the buffet offerings in their full untouched glory before other guests started tucking in!
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the buffet spread consisted of 8 main dishes (3 meats 1 fish and 4 veg), briyani, white rice, soup, a section with pickles + mint sauce + raita (indian yoghurt) + papadum etc, and dessert – quite a spread for the price you pay, we thought!

here are the meats/fish:
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everything was pretty good but if i had to pick a fave, it would definitely be the tandoori chicken. taken with the mint sauce, it was super tasty and very successfully satisfied my indian food craving – the meat was very tender and moist and the seasoning and tandoori flavour was spot-on.

the other meats available were chicken masala and gosht mirchiwala. the chicken masala was not bad but i thought the sauce could have been a little thicker and creamier. the meat was also not as moist as that of the tandoori chicken; the pieces i had were a little dry. as for the gosht mirchiwala, i still haven’t figured out if it was lamb or mutton we were eating, but it was good anyway! the curry was thick and tasty, great for dipping naan into it.

i also enjoyed the fish tomato curry – the fish pieces were fresh, big and meaty, and the tomato sauce was pretty light. the batter of the fish soaked the sauce up to make for quite a good dish. had a few servings of this as a break from the more heavier meat curries.

here’s the vegetarian section:
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fave out of the vegetables was definitely the vegetable jalfrezi. it was a mixed vegetables (beans, carrots, cauliflower) dish in a very nicely spiced tomato-based sauce. i had quite a few servings of thisw because it was the closest thing to aloo gobi that was available as part of the buffet. another dish so tasty that it really satisfied my indian food craving. the other veg dish that i had several servings of was the kabuli paneer. i love paneer and normally always order palak (creamed spinach) paneer whenever i have indian food. couldn’t identify the veg that went into this but the paneer was super yummy; i had lots and lots of it heehee. light, spongy, fluffy – almost like tofu! the dahl and other vegetable dish were also pretty good.

there was also a pickles section of the buffet:
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the papadam was greattt. they regularly brought out fresh batches – crispy and warm and fried in fresh oil (none of the funky reused oil taste you get with some fried things yay!). the pickles were not bad and i absolutely loved the mint sauce and the raita. so yummy!

now on to what was basically my staple for the night, the naan glorious naan!!!

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i stayed away from the briyani and rice because i was readying myself to load up on the naan heehee. the naan here is freshly-made and served to your table – all warm, super fluffy and drizzled generously with butter. what i had been dreaming of and what i had come for – yes yes yes more more more please! they regularly replenish the naan baskets at your table when you’re finished and that was very welcome heh. another picture as a tribute to my love for this amazing bread-y goodness:
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and eaten with the naan we had round after round (as much as our stomachs would allow) of:20140818_19011020140818_191651

at the end of it all, we were super full but sampled the desserts they had available. they had 2 (i assume) traditional indian desserts – gulab jamun and this other milky thing (sorry i forgot the name and its cut off in my picture of it, as you will see in the pic below):
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the gulab jamun was extremely sweet (as expected), so we nibbled at it and stopped there. as for the milky dessert, i’m still not sure what exactly goes into it. it was like… vermicelli-type noodles in a very milky base. wasn’t quite our cup of tea at all, so we stuck to the fresh fruits which were super sweet and juicy, a perfect and refreshing end to our heavy meal.

i’d definitely come back to riverwalk tandoor the next time i’m craving some hearty indian food, and will be spreading the word about it! given the price of the meal, you really can’t complain about the spread or the quality of the food. its nothing fancy but it was good enough for us. didn’t check out the a la carte menu, but might do so next time if i’m not intending on feasting (rare occurence but i assure you, it does happen :P).

we left with very happy (and heavy) tummies, full of enthusiasm to walk off our dinner with a stroll down the river. the enthusiasm didn’t last long though, and we soon found ourselves lazily plonked down by the riverside outside central enjoying the live music from across the water and watching boats go by… perfect end to my night! 🙂
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Riverwalk Tandoor
20 Upper Circular Rd, The Riverwalk #B1-38
Singapore 058416
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Assembly Coffee, Singapore

evans lodge just got more exciting with this (relatively) new kid on the block. opened some time late last year/ at the start of this year, assembly prides itself on good coffee and is the perfect place to stop and get a cuppa if you’re in the dunearn road / bukit timah area. i’m not big on coffee but am still very pleased with this addition to the area’s offerings because the food is good too!

i visited on national day with three friends; we were looking for somewhere convenient to have a spot (or more) of tea, and assembly coffee fit the bill with its waffle and cake offerings, its location and ample parking right within evans lodge itself. it was packed when we arrived at 2.30pm but we were lucky enough to snag a table for four just as a couple was leaving. assembly occupies a rather small shop unit in evans lodge – when its not too packed i can imagine it making a really nice and cosy place to chill with a book and while the afternoon away, but when it was packed like how it was when we visited, it can get rather cramp and stuffy.
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where we were seated (by the window on the left, semi-hidden in the pic) was bordering on uncomfortably hot and i think it can probably be attributed to the lack of sufficient air-conditioning and the strong sunlight coming in through the windows that day.

besides the coffees they are known for, assembly offers simple breakfast/light brunch or lunch-type food items. here’s the food menu:
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and the drinks menu:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we were all really full having just come from respective lunches, so we passed on the mains and headed straight for the sweet dessert offerings. wasn’t difficult to agree on what we wanted – the four of us ordered a waffle and brick toast to share. i was so tempted by the cakes on display in the counter (i wonder if they’re outsourced?) which included exciting things like horlicks tarts and dark chocolate-pistachio-cranberry cake (mmmm…) but was reminded by my teatime companions to exercise some self-control and rein the omnipresent greediness in me in.
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cake display mmm…

considering the crowd, the food was served in a relatively decent amount of time. first up, the famous earl grey caramel waffle:
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earl grey caramel waffle – waffle with homemade earl grey caramel sauce topped with new zealand natural vanilla ice cream and strawberries ($11.50)

i wasn’t disappointed by this waffle! it was wonderfully crispy on the outside (which made eating the edges delightful) but moist and fluffy inside. the vanilla ice cream that topped it went very well with the caramel sauce. the first of my only 2 qualms is that the earl grey taste could have been a little stronger! till now, i can’t tell if the earl grey is just in the sauce or if it is infused in the waffle batter; i only tasted it fleetingly in some bites so can’t quite figure out where the subtle earl grey flavour was coming from. secondly, i thought that the waffles could have been lighter within as i felt that the inside of the waffle was a little on the dense side; you can tell from the picture below that they are very moist inside which is great but at the same time i think they could be a little lighter and airier (for lack of a better word).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
but of course i’m comparing the waffles here to my favourite waffles at creamier, so the benchmark is set pretty high 😛 this still made for a highly satisfying waffle mmm yes…

we also had the brick toast:
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assembly’s brick toast – “shibuya” inspired honey brick toast topped with vanilla ice cream, artisan honey greek yoghurt and fruits ($12)

back view:
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this plate of toast was a real show-stopper; its the kind of thing other patrons stare at curiously (aka enviously) when they see it being served to your table and wish they had ordered too. the centre of a super thick slice of toast is cut out and into little blocks, while a scoop of ice cream sits pretty within the now empty core of the thick toast. i quite liked this but the general consensus among the four of us was that it was bordering on being too sweet and we all preferred the waffle. its basically really thick toast that’s fried (i think?) till its nice and crunchy on the outside, but that remains soft inside. it was coated in sugar and honey which made it very sweet, but we realised that was probably what the greek yoghurt was for – to balance out the sweetness of the ice cream + sugar-coated toast combi. taken with the yoghurt and fruit, it became much more enjoyable and was actually quite addictive; crunchy outsides and fluffy insides paired with ice cream and finally dipped in yoghurt. sounds rather odd i know, but actually tasted quite interesting. the greek yoghurt was a refreshing addition. 

we also ordered an iced latte but i only had a sip of it so i can’t say much about it:
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iced latte: $5

they are extremely serious about their coffees here though (look at the number of people working hard behind the counter), so i’m sure it was very good, and much needed in the heat!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i’d definitely return to assembly coffee again if i’m looking for somewhere to have a light meal around the area; what we had that day satisfied me enough for me to want to try their savoury offerings as well as some of that yummy-looking cake! a (very) belated welcome to the ‘hood, you guys! 😉

Assembly Coffee
26 Evans Lodge
Singapore 259367

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my teatime companions – old and very dear friends :’)

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clearly i am the only / the most patriotic one among the 4 of us… (#happybelatedbirthdaysingapore #loveyoulongtime) all decked out in red & white to show my love for this amazing city that has given me so much, and has always kept the foodie in me 129843094829304% satisfied!!!

Officially 21!!!

so today marks the day that i officially become an adult, and i thought it was the appropriate occasion to depart from my usual pictures of food and instead post some pictures of people dressed as food 😉 very very very happily celebrated turning 21 with a bunch of my favourite people on sunday evening, and it was my dream party – surrounded by people i love dressed as food i love all doing what i love (ie feasting). so this post is dedicated to my amazing family and friends who have all contributed in one way or another to making me who i am today; love you guys long long longgg time!!!

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and now a moment to shine for those who i got to dress as i wished since they didn’t meet my exacting costume quality standards 😉 :
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yes, that’s nic (ie guy in banner at the top of this page)
(he claimed to be chendol:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand i have to say he got the colours down pat, but unfortunately not enough to meet my exacting standards 😛 )

and the food, oh the food, all my favourite foods together in 1 dinner! we had rojak from my all-time favourite silver stream rojak, satay/sambal stingray/chicken wings/otah done on the spot, popiah, kueh pie tee, briyani and curry, tau sua, teh tarik, and my favourite of the night – a prata man who was making all kinds of amazing pratas before our very eyes, from plaster pratas to onion pratas to cheese and egg pratas to paper pratas to chocolate banana pratas… you name it, he made it!
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and of course no birthday is complete without cake (i eat cake every day because its somebody’s birthday somewhere…). this stack of panCAKEs was a surprise from the dear parents and sister ❀
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dad dressed as a satay man and mum dressed as a dim sum cart lady; my parents are the best 😉 ❀

so that marked the beginning of a week of birthday feasting (am coincidentally in between internships and have a break from work this week YAY) and really happy days 🙂

signing off my first post as a 21-year-old,
rach 😀

ps. will be back to posts full of actual food soon; stay tuned! 🙂 just needed to put this all down in a post to remember this little foodie’s food fete!!! i hope the pictures were as good as, if not better than, the usual drool-inducing food snaps hahaha!

back in action!!!

exams are finally over and summer is here! oh summer, glorious summer – truly the best and most carefree time of the year. in the week since exams have ended, food explorations have resumed (hurray!), sleep has been aplenty, and i’ve been to amsterdam and back.

stay tuned for updates 🙂

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Chinese New Year caloriez (read at your own risk)

hate to rain on your cny parade/goodies binge, but thought this was worth a share!

all i can say in response to this is… #YOLO? or as a friend suggested, we shouldn’t always believe what we read on the internet. but unfortunately, that’s probably just wishful thinking 😩

i’m a firm believer that everything in moderation is the way to go though, so go forth and eat on, my friends!

pineapple tartz/bak kwa/love letters/kueh bolu/cookies – get in ma belly 😛

and to all our readers who celebrate cny wherever you may be, gong xi fa cai and have a fabulous time celebrating with friends, family, and FOOD. good food. 🙂