Category Archives: Reviews

Queen Victoria Market Night Market 2015

We arrived in Melbourne a few weeks ago. We haven’t really had the time to explore the city since we were too busy house-hunting. Jen told me that the Queen Victoria Market Night Market was starting this week and I made a mental note that we should go. Even though we were busy last Wednesday, I managed to remember that the night market started that day so off we went to have a night out and I was excited to see what good food and goodies were for sale.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market

We arrived around seven o’clock in the evening. The night market had picked-up and people where pouring in. The night market seemed to be set-up in a large covered space but it was an open air venue so as the night wore on the place became quite cold. There are large outdoor heating lamps scattered around the venue but I would suggest that you dress warmly to enjoy the event fully. There are a handful of performers on site and you can watch them perform around the market. There are some ATM machines and toilets near the Queen Street entrance.

Getting There

To reach the venue you simply need to alight at the Flagstaff railway station and exit via William Street. Walk along the park to Peel Street then you should see the QVM after a few blocks. If you go by this route, you will reach the back entrance to the venue but it’s the easiest way to get there if you’re commuting.

The Food

There was an overwhelming array of food available. We checked the website before coming to the night market and we were eager to try Hoy Pinoy and The Little Mushroom Co. We got distracted by the different food vendors so we were stuffed by the time that we located The Little Mushroom Co. You will find that there is going to be a long queue for more stalls but don’t fret as the lines move fast.

• Hoy Pinoy

Hoy Pinoy serves Filipino barbeque and street food. Sisig has always been one of my favorite Filipino dishes so I was so excited to try their version of my favorite dish.We got a serving of the Sisig served on a flatbread and the Pork Crackling served with vinegar. Sisig in the Philippines is usually served on a hot plate and and some restaurants served it with a topping of crushed crackling pork. Hoy Pinoy’s version seemed like a fushion of the traditional sisig and a thai style soft taco. We loved the well balanced flavour, unique combination, the addition of cilantro, the use of the lime wedge to cut the fat and the generous serving. If we ever come back to the night market again this season, I will definitely get another serving of this dish.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - Hoy Pinoy

Cooking Sisig

The pork crackling or chicharon was crunchy but it was a bit bland. We both agreed that it needed a bit more salt in it as it lacked that umami sensation. The chicharon was technically well done but it lacked flavour.

• Carvery

When we were eating the sisig and chicaron, the person who were were sharing a table with was eating lamb shank, porchetta and some chips so since we were still hungry we decided to hunt for the stall that sold those food. We got the porchetta served on a bun with some greens and a gravy-type sauce.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - Carvery

Porchetta Burger

The porchetta was very flavourful but eating it as a burger mellowed out the flavour. We ended up removing the top bun and eating the meat separate from the bread to enjoy the full flavour of the pork. The chips they served was excellent as well. It was crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

• Bigne

For dessert we got some caramel cream puffs and some cartoca. I really liked the cream puffs. The pastry was puffy, custard was creamy and the caramel was crunchy. It is one of the best cream puffs I’ve ever had.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - Bigne

Yummy yummy cream puffs

The cartoca was ok but not memorable. It was good but the flavour of the pistachio topping didn’t really come through. I would give this a miss and just get a second serving of the cream puffs.

The Goods

There was a good assortment of vendors on site. I enjoyed going around and visiting some stalls. I bought a hair accessory for myself and few items for our home.

• Made in Japan

Made in Japan sold really beautiful but incredibly affordable ceramics that are of course made in Japan. I really like the small plates and tea cups they sold.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - mij

Beautiful ceramics at an unbeatable price

We bought all four designs of small blue plates since they were such a bargain at only $3.75 each. I really liked the large bowls and serving platters on sale as well. The texture and the jewel-like glazing was really gorgeous.

• Green Candle Co

I’m a huge aromatherapy nut so I couldn’t resist buying some soy melts and a burner from the Green Candle Co. Most of our items are still with the shipping company in Singapore waiting to make it’s way here so I don’t have my oil burners yet.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - Green Candle Co

The fire performer was very entertaining. We just love the Beach House Soy Melts from Green Candle Co.

Marina makes them herself and she was very friendly and informative about each item sells. We both like the Beach House Soy Melts and the lovely modern design of the oil burner which was perfect for our new flat.

• Through Bambi Eyes

I like the nice graphic print of the headband for sale from Through Bambi Eyes. I bought the peach headband from Rebekah and wore it to the Matt Blatt opening the next day. I love how it adds color to my monotone outfit during winter.

Queen Victoria Market Night Market - Through Bambi Eyes

The very friendly performers on stilts taking photos with the crowd. Got the peach hair tie from the Through Bambi Eyes stall.

We had a lot of fun at the Queen Victoria Market Night Market. The food was good and there were some nice items for sale. I would suggest going to this event if you haven’t been there and have a fun night out.

Sponsored Post: Amore Silver

It surprises most people when they find out that I have quite a number of jewellery and accessories in my collection since I wear very minimal jewellery in public and I often dress down. I subscribe to the 3-piece rule so I have some pieces in storage that I have not even worn yet. I tend to wear my favourite pieces over and over again.

I’ve loved jewellery since I was in elementary school. My mom gave me my first gold necklace when I was in 3rd grade and since then my collection grew.

I was delighted when Amore Silver invited me to review some earrings and necklaces. Amore Silver means “for the love of silver”. I selected some of my favourite pieces from their collection. I like them since I can wear them at work or on the weekends. They have a wide range of designs, from feminine designs to geometric patterns.

Let me say that these pieces are even more gorgeous in person. Each piece is affordable and you can see the craftsmanship. They have items with prices starting at $14 – $60.

Amore’s jewellery is made of sterling silver which is 92.50% silver and 7.50% copper metal alloy and these pieces are manufactured in Thailand. This blend is a very high grade of silver that is used in making jewellery. Most people allergic to nickel can still wear sterling silver but in order to give a comprehensive review, I made sure that I wore the pieces several times for three weeks to see if I would develop any allergic reaction since I have a metal allergy – I even wore the earrings when I was working out this week. I’m glad to report that in my case, I did not develop any allergies.

I find that Amore Silver’s jewellery is well made and affordable. They have an excellent return policy where you can get a full refund within 14 days of purchase, no questions asked. I would buy more pieces for myself or as gifts for family and friends.

Use our coupon code, “kat-ala” to get a 15% discount discount at Amore Silver. This coupon code is valid until May 31, 2014.

Amore Silver

  • Website: www.amoresilver.com
  • Email: amoresilversg@gmail.com
  • SMS / Whatsapp : Oliver +65 9199 5623

Flexible Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy: Not all fountain pens are suitable for use in practicing calligraphy. Some fountain pens work better with certain styles of calligraphy. This post is focused on flexible fountain pens that is typically used in styles like Modern Calligraphy, Copperplate or Spencerian.

Practicing calligraphy with a dip pen and a bottle of ink is ideal but it is not always convenient when you are on the go. A good alternative would be to use a fountain pen with a flexible nib that somehow mimics an old fashioned nib.

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Most fountain pen manufacturers these days are cautious in labeling their fountain pen as flexible and even some advertise that the nibs are flexible but they do not cut the mustard. So to help you decide what fountain pen to purchase, I’ve decided to share a review of the flex fountain pens that we own.

Test Parameters:

- Point of comparison for hand writing pressure to flex the nib: soft to medium pressure
- Paper: Muji dotted notebook
- Fountain Pens: Vintage Waterman 92, Pilot FA 742, and Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Vintage Fountain Pen (Waterman 92)

This pen was a present for Lex which I bought from sizer65 on eBay. I got good recommendations on where to buy vintage fountain pens online from the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers page in Facebook. This group of fountain pen enthusiasts is very friendly and helpful so you may want to check out their page if you’re looking for fountain pen recommendations and reviews.

Guidelines for buying vintage fountain pens online:
- Look for pictures of writing samples that show line variation
- Look for terms like flexible, flex, super flex, or wet noodle
- It must be described as fully functional or restored
- Google and see if the pen really performs as described by the seller based on reviews by other owners
- Check the sellers feedback
- Check with the seller if the fountain pen requires soft pressure to make swells and hairlines
- Ask the seller questions when in doubt

It was reasonably priced however the line variation was not what I expected. I thought that it would produce the same line variation as the Pilot FA 742 or better, but it produced a thinner swell. The pressure required to create swells would be from soft to medium but the tricky part is in creating hairlines since the fountain pen required a light touch to maintain a thin and consistent hairline. I know this sounds contradictory but this pen is just a tad quirky.

Vintage Waterman 92 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Good line variation
- Dislikes: Takes any ink however a medium pressure is required to make line variations
- Line Variation: Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $60-100
- Where to buy: Online or eBay (sizer65)

Pilot FA 742

I bought the Pilot FA 742 after some intensive research online. It is a great flex pen that is comparable to old fashioned nibs. It is pricey compared to other flex pens in the market but I think it is worth it.

The line variation I get from this pen is still the best compared to all other fountain pens that I’ve tried. This is my favorite fountain pen so far.

Pilot FA 742 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Great line variation
- Dislikes: Picky with ink and railroads if you write in flex mode really fast
- Line Variation: Thick Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Soft
- Ink: Works best with Pilot inks
- Price: USD $190 or SGD $236++
- Where to buy: Online or local fountain pen shops (Fook Hing Trading)

Noodler’s Creaper Flex

 We were so excited to get the Noodler’s Creaper Flex since it was the cheapest flex pen with good online reviews. The pen requires heavy pressure to make it flex. Lex can easily make the pen flex but I struggle to make swells as I need to insert heavy pressure and only get minimal results. I must say that I am a bit disappointed with this pen

There are some folks here in Singapore, like Urner Hoo, who provide nib grinding services to make nibs more flexible. He sells modified Noodler’s Ahab pens at $80.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Original

- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and great value for the price
- Dislikes: Required heavy pressure to write in flex mode. Ladies may have a hard time making this pen flex as opposed to the Gents.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium to hard pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $20
- Where to buy: Online (Goulet Pens)

Updated on May 1, 2014
Sponsored Section: Urner’s Modified Noodler’s Creaper Flex Pen

I got a Noodler’s Creaper Flex from Urner. I was excited to try the ground-down nib and see how it compares to the original pen. My original complaint was that the unmodified pen is hard and difficult to flex making it harder to practice calligraphy.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink) Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Below is a comparison on the performance of the modified and unmodified version of the pens.  You get a slightly thicker line with the modified version as opposed to the original pen but the big difference would be on how easy the modified pen is to flex.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink)

The modified pen came loaded with Calli Ink which is a calligraphy ink and not a traditional fountain pen ink. It dried quickly as opposed to the other fountain pen inks that I used before. It could have something to do with the modified feed which had a small piece of tissue wedged-in to reduce ink flow but I’m not an expert on ink. I was told that the surface tension of Calli Ink (Orange color only) works well with this fountain pen and I’m glad to report that it does. Since this pen is a modified one, it would be best to get some guidance from Urner on what inks he recommends as it may not work as well with just any off the shelf product.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Urner’s Modified Nib
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and easy to flex as the nib is soft
- Dislikes: Since the pen is modified, you need to tune it to ensure a smooth flow. This does not faze us as we like to tinker with our fountain pens. You also need to be very conscious on how you hold the pen because if you use the wrong angle you may damage the nib over a period of time. This maybe overwhelming for first time fountain pen users, however Urner provides an instruction sheet and he will give you tips on how to use and maintain the pen when you pick it up. You can also message him if you have any aftercare questions or concerns.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Light to Soft pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works best with Calli Ink
- Price: $80
- Where to buy: Urner Hoo (Facebook Message)

Summary:

Overall, I think that the best pen is the Pilot 742 FA however it is pricey. Vintage pens would be the next best alternative but buying them is a bit troublesome and results do vary. The Noodler’s pen is the most affordable and if you don’t like how it flexes, you can always get it modified.

The original Noodler’s Creaper Flex is difficult to flex as it requires more pressure to make the tines part as opposed to the modified version which is very easy to flex however the modified pen requires more maintenance and care.

Stay tuned for my post on the Noodler’s Ahab and Platinum Cool Fountain Pens in the upcoming weeks. These pens are flex and may be used for calligraphy.

Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack

We walked past Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack a few weeks ago when we went out for a brisk walk. I’ve never tried a lobster roll before so we had to have it for dinner the next day.

Platypus Lobster Shack

We ordered two lobster rolls and to our surprise we got a complimentary bowl of Lobster Bisque. Our server told us that they were gathering feedback from customers since they wanted to put it on the regular menu. I love crabs and lobster but I’ve never really liked bisques so I was a bit apprehensive when I tried it but I really really really love it.

Best Lobster bisque ever!

The bisque was creamy and well balanced. I loved how the roe did not overpower the soup. I’m not familiar with the taste of sea urchin so I can’t really comment on how well the ingredient tasted but all I can say is if they sold a large portion of the lobster and sea urchin bisque, I’d be a regular at their restaurant.

The Traditional Lobster Roll

The Traditional lobster roll had some butter-poached lobster meat with roasted garlic mayonnaise and chives. The bun was buttery and slightly crunchy since it was toasted. The lobster was delicate and a splash of lemon really brightened the flavors.

Smoke Paprika Lobster Roll

The Smoked Paprika lobster roll had butter poached lobster with Spanish paprika with Hollandaise and chervil. I preferred this one to the Traditional Lobster roll since I like strong flavors, but what I really liked about this roll is that although the flavors were strong they did not overpower the taste of the lobster. The dish was well balanced so you could still taste most of the ingredients.

The sides deserve a special mention since they were excellent as well. The truffle chips had a strong truffle flavor and it had a spicy kick which made it taste like truffle and BBQ. I’ve never really liked the taste of truffle until I had their spicy chips. The salad was fresh and the citrus dressing was light and refreshing. You will really feel stuffed after having such a huge meal.

They serve a different menu during the day and the lobster rolls are only served after 6 pm. We were talking about how it would be great to bring guests here. Unfortunately, they are only open on weekdays and they only accept cash so you need to withdraw some money before coming to this place, but it is worth it.

I like how the restaurant is very intimate and the staff is very friendly. The Platypus Gourmet and Lobster Shack is a must-try in our book. If you’re in the Telok Ayer/ Chinatown area, we would recommend trying this place.

Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack

  • Website: www.platypuskitchen.com
  • Address: 3 Pickering Street #01-31 Nankin Row Singapore 048660
  • Telephone: 6438 796
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Lobster rolls are only served after 6 pm

Shu Uemura Modern Calligraphy Workshop and Make-up Giveaway

We were invited to conduct two calligraphy workshop sessions at the Shu Uemura office this week to celebrate the launch of their new eyeliner, called Calligaph.ink, with Singapore’s top beauty bloggers. I’ve added the links to their blogs below so you could check out their sites.

Katrina Alana Modern Calligraphy Workshop Kit

To prepare for the workshop we prepared a special kit which includes:

  • Our very own Katrina Alana Modern Calligraphy Alphabet ©2014
  • Katrina Alana Practice Sheets ©2014
  • A wooden holder with a Nikko G nib
  • A bottle of black Pelikan fountain pen ink
  • A cute little bird pen rest
  • A capiz shell pen holder all the way from Cebu to store the holder and nib
  • A specially decorated Muji notebook
  • A rubber ring to help stabilize the the bottle of ink

Our first Modern Calligraphy workshop of the year

We’ve gotten a lot of enquiries about conducting calligraphy workshops last year and it’s so great to start our workshops schedule with such lovely ladies on the first month of 2014.

First Workshop Participants: (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) Roanna, Zee, Katrina, Candice, Tricia, Yina, Evonne and Juli

It was great to meet such a dynamic group of beauties who are not only pretty, but very fun and humble to boot. Singapore’s top beauty bloggers were such engaging students and good sport especially when the ink stained their hands.

Our next workshop was held the very next day with another batch of Singapore’s top beauty bloggers

We got some freebies from Shu Uemura worth over $100 which we will be giving away . These products have limited edition packaging that was designed in collaboration with 6♥Princess by Takashi Murakami. These wonderful products were courtesy of our liaisons Zee, Roanna, and Fuan. Thank you!

First Workshop Participants: (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) Katrina, Sara, Michelle, Sophia, Sarah, Leanne, Zee, Fuan

Beauty Blogger Directory:

Workshop 1:

Workshop 2:

Photo Credit: Shu Uemura

This giveaway is open to all our followers who are at least 18 years old. We will ship the products worldwide to the winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Listed at: Giveaway Monkey

Amazon Free Shipping to Singapore

I love to shop at Amazon for books and art supplies since it is cheaper to buy online and ship the items here. I was really happy when Amazon announced that they will ship items to Singapore for free if you order at least USD $125 and if the combined weight of the items is less than 20 lbs. or 9 kg.

The first time we ordered was during the haze period when all the air purifiers were either out of stock or way too overpriced. This time, we ordered some books and gifts to bring back when we go back home for Christmas.

We’ve tried this service twice and both times our orders arrived within 2 weeks. We’ve been happy with the savings and turnaround time for the delivery.

Tips:
1. Read the Help Topics at the AmazonGlobal Saver Shipping page before you start shopping

2. Be careful to shop at the AmazonGlobal page so you only add items on your cart that qualify for free shipping.

3. Note down the weight of each item every time you add it to your shopping cart so you don’t exceed the weight limit.

Best Kaya Toast in Chinatown

I love coffee and but I was never a huge fan of toast until I tried the kopi, kaya toast and runny eggs combo here in Singapore. It is the quintessential breakfast and a must-try. A good kaya toast breakfast must have a delicious kaya jam with a good balance of kaya to margarine / butter ratio, well toasted bread, perfectly brewed coffee and a pleasant place to eat to enjoy your meal.

Delicious kaya toast on white bread

Now we make it a point to try the various coffee places in Singapore during the weekends and we’re sharing our reviews on what we think about the popular kopi places in town.

Coffee was ok

Almost hard boiled!

I’ve wanted to try the kaya toast at Tong Ah Coffee Shop since it was featured in a Makansutra article in Yahoo. This place is supposed to be popular with international chefs, so we had pretty high expectations when we went there and sad to say we were deeply disappointed. The kaya toast was delicious and I loved the white bread that they used but the coffee was just so-so, the eggs were almost hard boiled and the uncle manning the shop was constantly shouting angrily at this staff. Constantly. Noisily. Shouting. The place is out of the way and the food standard is not even at par with the hawker place near my building. The uncle even went to our table and observed us trying to mash up the almost hard boiled egg when he served our coffee and left without a comment. When we tried to check out the other tables, the eggs that were served were also the same as ours. Tsktsk.

Tong Ah Coffee Shop

  • Address: 35 Keong Siak Road, Singapore 089142
  • Hours: 6:30 am – 10:00 pm
  • Coffee: 2/5
  • Traditional Kaya Toast: 5/5
  • Eggs: 0/5
  • Ambiance: 0/0

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe is a nice place to hang-out in the middle of the tourist strip in Chinatown

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe has a branch near our place and we went there last weekend. The cosy ambiance and made it pleasant to hang out there. It is a place where you can chill with friends on a lazy afternoon. The kaya toast was delicious, the eggs were runny and  the coffee was well brewed. We’re looking forward to going back there to try the other versions of kaya toast that they offer since we only tried the traditional one.

Good coffee and kaya toast

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe

  • Address: 75 Pagoda Street, Singapore, Singapore 059234
  • Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Coffee: 4/5
  • Traditional Kaya Toast: 4/5
  • Eggs: 4/5
  • Ambiance: 5/5

Our favorite kopi and kaya toast set

Ya Kun is everywhere. When we started going around looking for the best kaya toast, I didn’t expect such a commercialized  coffee place to be my favorite so far. We desperately wanted to vote for the little hole-in-the-wall places and patronize small businesses over such a large chain but the food speaks for itself. I’ve never been dissapointed when we go to have coffee at Ya Kun. The kaya toast is delicious, the eggs are runny and the coffee is great. The only things that the place lacks character.

Ya Kun Kaya Toast

  • Address: People’s Park Centre, 101 Upper Cross Street, Level 1 Atrium, Singapore 058357
  • Hours: 8:00 am – 8:45 pm
  • Coffee: 4/5
  • Traditional Kaya Toast: 4/5
  • Eggs: 4/5
  • Ambiance: 3/5

Do you have any other places to suggest? Leave a comment below and we will try out your recommendation when we’re in the area.

Two Blur Guys Cafe

Our friend Suzi from Tiramisuzi recommended the Pulled Pork sandwich at Two Blur Guys near Tanjong Pagar MRT and we finally went there a few weeks ago.

Two Blur Guys at Orchid Hotel

Lex ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich which was delicious but the Prime Beef with Streaky Bacon really stole the spotlight. The gruyere chese complemented the perfectly cooked and juicy beef patty. The sides were great specially the potato salad.

Prime Beef with Streaky Bacon ($17.95)

We will definitely come back to this place to try the other burgers on the menu.

Baby Shower for Shanta and Kyle

Our group of friends hosted a baby shower for our buddies Shanta and Kyle last weekend at the Canopy Garden Dining and Bar. We chose this place since it very good review online and it was hailed as one of the best places to have brunch in Singapore.

Antonette was in charge of the guest list and the party was an intimate celebration with close friends. We made a mermaid cake topper since Shanta was planning on decorating the nursery in a mermaid theme for their baby girl and we had some fun and games courtesy of Kim and Maimai. 

Pan Seared Red Snapper

We were seated at the Green Room and the place great for a small celebration. We had the pan seared snapper and the eggs le grand.

Awesome Eggs Benedict Le Grand

The fish was ok. It was cooked well but it couldn’t compare to how delicious the eggs benedict were. We will attest that the hollaindaise sauce they serve with the poached eggs is one of the best in Singapore. We’re are definitely going to come back to this place for brunch sometime soon.