Author Archives: Crystal Wee

Daizu Cafe

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Though several new cafes have popped up on shores post-lockdown era, not quite a few appealed to me. Daizu Cafe became that exception when I was recommended to it – my friends were right when they showed me photos and remarked that the cafe’s aesthetics seemed to be my kind of aesthetics. 

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Arriving just before the crowd on a Sunday morning, I managed to grab a window seat and that window of opportunity for a few snaps of the near-empty cafe. Boasting 2 storeys and a small alfresco area, the wooden tables were spaced comfortably in the minimalistic-ally designed cafe. The cafe also appeared welcoming to patrons studying/working “from home”. 

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Of the drinks we ordered, I loved my friend’s Dark Mocha ($6.50 hot, $7 iced) for its smoothness, mild acidity and bittersweet tones of chocolate. Unfortunately my order of Uji Matcha Latte ($7 hot, $7.50 iced) with Soy Milk (+$1) felt more of a watered down version of an instant matcha mix. 

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While the Drinks, Pastries and Cakes and Tarts are available all day from 10am, the Brunch, Pasta, Rice Bowls and Sides menus run from 11am onwards with a moderate selection of food. We had the Petit Breakfast ($10), Mini Unagi Bowl ($10) and White Truffle Fries ($10). Despite the “Petit” and “Mini” designations, we felt that the portions were generous and sufficiently filling along with a couple of sides. Prices were also on the comfortable range – the rice bowls and pastas were all priced below $20. 

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What were memorable: 1. the smooth, creamy scrambled eggs in the Petit Breakfast; 2. the fresh, tender and sweetly glazed grilled unagi from the Unagi Bowl. 

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From the small selection of cakes and tart, we picked the Lime Meringue Tart ($8.50) which had a good balance of tartness and sweetness, thus ending our meal on a satisfying note. 

And so, I have been recommending this place to friends looking for weekend brunch at comfort prices. I also reckon it a conducive environment for working/studying on weekdays. Another plus point – in the proximity, you will find more cafes to cafe-hop (Old Hen Coffee, Gather the Misfits, Brunches Cafe, Enchanted Cafe).

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Address: 129 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218407

Tel: +65 8155 8233

Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm daily

Lucali BYGB

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I chanced upon the profile of this restaurant during their pre-opening phase: An outpost of Lucali in Brooklyn – a popular neighborhood eatery characteristic for its thin-crust pizzas and BYOB policy. A collaboration between Mark Iacono from the parent Lucali and Gibran Baydoun of BYGB Hospitality. A grand opening so highly anticipated that bookings were mostly full for weeks.

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Hopping in the line of high hopes, I made my reservation 2 weeks in advance and on the day itself, brisk walked through the Kallang Riverside Park to the old industrial building at Kampong Bugis where the restaurant is tucked in.

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The interior – wooden tables and benches, part concrete part tiled floors, bright and airy with lots of natural light streaming in – sets it apart from the rustic BK neighborhood vibes of the main branch and was right up my alley.

Parked at a table for 2 with a view of the Kallang River (riverside dining at its best in Singapore), we looked through the simple, concise menu – a pizza, calzone, 3 types of pastas, a few appetizers and a few desserts.

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Drinks-wise, no BYOB here, but instead there is a fair range of sodas, homemade bottled cocktails and wines to choose from the fridge.

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The Original 18” Pizza Pie ($55), served at only 1 size, is the signature. Don’t forget to add toppings (at $5 each), otherwise your pizza will come plain with just sauce, basil and cheese.  From the list of toppings – extra side of sauce, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, olives – we added pepperoni and mushrooms. Freshly wood-fired and out from the oven, the pizza was quite satisfying, from its crispy thin crust to the sauce. The size was also more manageable than expected for the both of us (females). However, admittedly, we could list better pizza joints we’ve been to.

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We also had the Cacio e Pepe ($35) comprising long fusilli seasoned with pecorino and black pepper. The highlight was the perfect firm, al dente texture of the fusilli, which I’ve not experienced in a long while. This could have been a superb pasta except for the unfortunate fact that it was too salty.

That was how my bill came up to be $115 – including water charged at $2/pax, GST and service charge. Prices are surely on the higher end here, even higher than in NYC. (Eg. The pizza with 2 toppings here costs $76.50 after GST and service charge, while that from NYC will cost about $53 SGD after tax, 20% tips and exchange rate conversion).

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I enjoyed the food, but can’t help feeling this sense of getting pinched as I left the place. Oh I miss rustling among the hippies in Brooklyn.

66 Kampong Bugis, Level M, Singapore 338987

Wed – Fri 5pm to 10pm

Sat – Sun 11am to 10pm

Tel: +65 8284 1325

Sokcho Blues

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It has been close to 2 weeks of a partial lockdown in Singapore, and time has gradually freed up for me to do some writing. To mourn the cancellation of my Korea trip that would originally start in a little more than a week’s time, I am reminiscing the 2 days 1 night in Sokcho last year. One of my favorite cities in Korea till date, part of me secretly wishes for it to be kept hidden from tourists, while the other part would like to express its quaint beauty to the world.

나만 알고 싶은 속초.

My first time taking an express bus out of Seoul from the Express Bus Terminal, the 3-hour ride was surprisingly smooth and comfortable, with a rest stop in the middle – that is coming from someone with motion sickness. We reached the quiet coastal city just in time for a late lunch.

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A stone’s throw away from the Sokcho Express Bus Terminal, it is a restaurant bearing a good reputation from being featured in one of celebrity chef Baek Jong-won’s TV programmes. They serve just crabs here, 3 types – the 킹크랩 (King Crab), 대게 (Snow Crab) and 홍게 (Red Snow Crab). Prices here are not cheap and there seems to be other places with better reviews for crabs, but I picked this place out of convenience.

We opted for 2 red snow crabs (70,000KRW), which are a delicacy caught in the East Sea of Korea, right off the coast of Sokcho. Ahjumma also taught us how to eat the crab legs conveniently.

Sokcho6 Don’t end the crab feast without ordering 게장밥 (Fried Crab Roe Rice, KRW2000 each). Generously fried with bits of crab roe and stuffed into a shell, this was a mouth orgasm.

We ended up paying about 35,000KRW per pax, which is still considered value-for-money compared to Singapore.

라마다강원속초호텔(Ramada Gangwon Sokcho Hotel)

– 대포항희망길 106

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Our one-night accommodation was right next to 대포항 (Daepo Port), where a fish market and fresh seafood restaurants lined the circumference of the port. Apart from the scenic view of the circular port against the backdrop of the 설악산 (Seorak Mountain) from the hotel, our hotel room had a serene view overlooking the 대포항등대 (Daepo Port Lighthouse) standing in sea of sometimes aquamarine, sometimes dusty blue, depending on the light and angle.

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외옹치 바다향기로

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A 15 minutes’ walk from the port led to the entrance of a trail that runs along the coast, passing by the grandiose Lotte Resort, then along 외옹치해변(Oeongchi Beach) until it connects to 속초해변(Sokcho Beach). With the right weather, the trail makes for a relaxing stroll.

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소야삼교리동치미막국수 – 청초호반로 76

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From the heart of Sokcho Beach, our dinner venue was a short bus ride away. It was our first time trying Makguksu, a cold noodle dish made with a high concentration of buckwheat and a specialty of the Gangwon Province. The signature of this restaurant is its 동치미 막국수(Dongchimi Makguksu, 8,000KRW) – a bowl of makguksu served along with a pot of dongchimi, or radish water kimchi. Together with the dongchimi, the bowl of noodles was extremely refreshing.

Sokcho18On the side, we had 메밀전 (Buckwheat Pancakes, 8,000KRW), which were savory, earthy and nutty at the same time.

칠성조선소(Chilsung Boatyard Salon) – 중앙로46번길 45

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Next morning, we had breakfast at possibly the most popular café in Sokcho. This café was indeed a shipyard right up till recent years, thus explaining not just its name but its raw structure. The complex is vast, with a gallery displaying the shipbuilding that once took place in the same space, an indoor café and outdoor sitting areas overlooking the 청초호(Cheongchoho Lake).

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Sokcho27Among the items we had – Chai Café Latte (6,500KRW), Black Bean Macaron (2,500KRW) Egg Tart (3,000KRW), and Gateau Au Chocolat (4,000KRW) – the Portuguese egg tart was so unexpectedly good, I was relieved that my friend and I each bought one for ourselves.

아바이마을 (Abai Village)

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After noon, we headed to this village which has a historical story of its own from the days of the Korean War. Without prior research on places to dine in this area, we picked and entered a store randomly. I had the 명태회 냉면 (Naengmyeon, or cold noodles, with pollock) which had a fiery kick to it.

영금정 (Yeongggeumjeong Pavilion)

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An impromptu stop, this is a traditional pavilion from which the scenery of the endless East Sea calms you right to the bones. And if you have extra time, there is the 속초등대전망대 (Sokcho Lighthouse Observatory) nearby too.

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Right before the journey back to Seoul, we made a quick pit stop at the 속초관광수산시장Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market, which is not shown here as the lively throng of the crowd filling the main aisle of the market made it quite impossible for photo-taking. There, we tried a bit of  오징어 순대 (Stuffed Squid), waited in line for 술빵 (Alcohol Fermented Bread), and brought back to Seoul a box of 닭강정 (Fried Chicken in a Sweet Sauce) from the famous 만석닭강정 (Manseok Dakgangjeong).

Mornings at Apartment Coffee

apartment1Have you not known about my obsession with all things white? My day-to-day wearables, the places I like to immerse myself in, my photo-editing style of always increasing exposure. For me, it is synonymous to cleanliness, to light, to minimalism. As opposed to the antonymous dirtiness, darkness and clutter. Three words that put my mind to unrest, that sometimes put me in fear.

apartment2In consistency with my white obsession, I therefore like daytime – mornings, especially. Mornings where the sun is unobstructed in a cloudless sea, where the most part of my room is naturally lit up through translucent curtains, where light and shadows are juxtaposed appropriately for a photo. Such mornings are days where I gain more drive and inspiration to live more fulfilling-ly (moment of shock as I realise that this word does not exist).

apartment4On such mornings, there are a few options:

  1. It is a typical work/school day, so I get on with the grind, albeit with more positivity
  2. It is my free day, so I admire the weather while reading/surfing/eating/doing absolutely nothing from the comfort of my nook
  3. It is my free day, so I put on a white outfit (preferably) and get to a café at its opening hour. That café should preferably have a nice white aesthetic.

Option 3 is my favourite. Interestingly, or dismally, it is also the least go-to option out of the 3 due to practical reasons. Which is why I cherish such option 3-mornings even more.

apartment3Recently, one of such mornings was spent at Apartment Coffee. It was my third time at the white-washed, minimally-themed coffee house since its opening in late 2018. On usual afternoons, the space is packed comfortably with customers and conversations spill across everywhere. All the more I have to be pressed to reach as early as possible, best if at 9am when the closed sign is flipped.

apartment9Like the previous two visits, I had perched myself on the wooden high stool for the coffee bar counter and called for my usual order of White. I am always fond of the smoothly textured milk + espresso here, though those who prefer very strong and robust flavours may not. One day I will get the filter. Oh, no takeaways here unless you bring your own tumbler.

apartment8Whilst waiting for my coffee, I would swoop up my phone and camera for a good round of photo-taking. This time a few people got caught in my photos, for I arrived an hour past 9.

apartment7Interior-wise, I dare say this space is my best-loved. The white walls, ceaseless coffee bar, brown wooden stools and tables and large windows put together remind me of Scandinavian design. Due to its location and windows, sunlight enters and leaves, creating brief moments of contrasting light and shadows that I so love to admire.

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The only bummer I experience here is sound – too much of it being resounded as more people stream in. And if only I could pair my cup of joe with a buttery, flaky pastry from Chye Seng Huat Coffee. Cherry on the cake. La cerise sur le gâteau.

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161 Lavender St, #01-12, Singapore 338750

9am – 6pm daily

Double Up Coffee

doubleup10Despite gloominess from that global health situation which I will not go on to elaborate on, the first quarter of 2020 has seen a pretty fair boom in new cafes in Singapore. This is after a lull in the previous 2 years that had more than slightly depleted my usual excitement in café-hopping.

doubleup9Opened last November without much fanfare is Double Up Coffee, located along Jalan Klapa in an enclave that houses several other well-known cafes. Just recently, it started to gain attention from social media postings.

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Reaching early on a weekday morning, I had the luxury of the entire space to myself. The non-air-conditioned porch of the café is decorated with a few potted plants, colorful chairs that emitted vibes of old school Singapore, and skateboards plastered with stickers and upcycled into tables which might be my favorite bit of the interior.

doubleup8 Stepping through the glass doors, I was first greeted by the concrete coffee counter, followed by another sitting area furnished with small stools and tables. The minimalist concrete-themed setting was predominant.

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doubleup1Small and simple, the menu is has 3 sections – Business (i.e. coffee), Pleasure (i.e. non-coffee) and Chow (i.e. pastries). Having always been more of an espresso person (vs. filter), I opted for the Spro with Soy Milk ($5.50), while my friend got herself the Iced Spro with Milk ($6). Spro here refers to espresso. Though my soy espresso was a tad limp, I loved the iced espresso with milk for its smoothness and non-acidic aftertaste. I later found out that beans here are sourced from Bearded Bella.

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doubleup4The sole pastry available that day was the Blueberry Crust ($5.50), which I thoroughly enjoyed for its lightness and flakiness.

doubleup12Rather than a comfortable spot to do “work from home” whilst sipping caffeine, I see this spot as one where I can hold light conversations and, from time to time, empty my mind and daydream.

7 Jalan Klapa, Singapore 199319

Wed – Mon 10am to 6pm

Perth – Of captivating food, wine and sunsets

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I am not an utter stranger to Western Australia, yet I felt as though I was stepping into a new, unknown land. When I was a mere 5 years old, I took the plane for the first time in my life and landed in Perth. Out of my own will, I was taken to see the now-vulnerable koalas, experience a farm stay, admire black swans and play in the sand dunes. All of these I don’t actually remember but am able to describe thanks to physically developed photographs.

17 years later, I came back voluntarily for a short break in part due to a suggestion, in part due to the reasonable air fare, and in part due to my absent memories of Perth. For a short 4 days, we covered places extensively without bumping into throngs of tourists or Asians – which was secretly satisfying.

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With just a couple of days allocated to the city of Perth itself, we narrowed down to the most highly rated places for food and went without batting an eyelid. Our brunch at Hylin (178 Railway Parade, West Leederville WA 6007, Australia) was memorable simply for the Streetz Chicken Croissant we had. The buttermilk fried chicken was sufficiently good on its own for that crisp on the outside and juiciness underneath the skin, but further enhanced by the maple syrup-drizzled flaky croissant. Let’s also not forget about the bacon, smoked mozzarella, and tinge of spiciness from the basil chilli aioli. One thing I did forget was how sinful it was. We also got the Brisket Benny which was noteworthy for the soft beef brisket between the two slices of cheesy sourdough toast. Unfortunately, coffee here was pretty meh.

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We also stopped by Chu Bakery (498 William St, Highgate WA 6003, Australia) on the way to Swan Lake, which is perhaps the most popular bakery in Perth. The Strawberry Veil, a tart pastry filled with caramel ganache and topped with fresh strawberries, cream and a gelée veil was great for the uncloying sweetness of the filling; the Salted Caramel Donut, thanks to the fluffy brioche and sweet savoury filling, was also one of the best donuts I’ve had in a while.

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Yet another recommended place for brunch is Bread in Common (43 Pakenham St, Fremantle WA 6160, Australia) in Fremantle. Serving as a bakery, deli and restaurant in a huge industrial-like setting, a farm to table approach is taken for the menu here. I tried Kangaroo meat for the first time, wow-ed by the well-executed dish. The meat tasted just like seared beef tataki. We also had a Pigeon dish, and of course we couldn’t resist getting their bread and cheese to go along.

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I declared my best sunset of 2019 to be the one I witnessed at Cottlesloe Beach. We stopped just slightly north of the main attraction area and spent some sentimental time watching the golden hues amidst swatting away flies.

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Other places visited in Perth:

  • Matilda Bay Restaurant (3 Hackett Dr, Crawley WA 6009, Australia) – amazing steak, amazing food in general
  • Petition – brunch spot. 4.5 stars on Google Maps but nothing we ordered was good… will not recommend!
  • Arrival Hall – hipster lifestyle shop and café
  • Mandoon Estate – winery in Swan Lake region
  • Crawley Edge Boatshed – no pictures because the iconic blue boathouse was covered in a grotesque pink cloth for an advertisement
  • Propeller – brilliant atmosphere and service, and the Mediterranean dishes were modernised and well-executed
  • Harvest Boulangerie – amazing ham and cheese croissant and crème brûlée Please go!
  • Swan River Gelato – their pistachio gelato tasted so natural, so good.
  • Little Creatures Brewing – for craft beer tasting
  • Kailis’ Fish Market Café – known to serve one of the best fish and chips in Perth. Decent, but not the best.

On our drive down to Margaret River from Perth, we stopped by Busselton city and toured Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden pier that stretches 1.8km out to the sea. The area was busseling with activities – a marathon and cycling event underway, teenage boys diving into the ocean, families lounging by the beach, tourists strolling on the jetty. Unknowingly, I got sunburnt in that one hour walking out into the sea and back, but the view was worth it. There was also a train that can bring people back and forth but does so in a speed slower than our walking pace.

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At Margaret River, we maximized our time feasting, drinking wine, and immersing in nature. The prettiest winery we went to on this trip has got to be Voyager’s Estate (41 Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285, Australia), where we enjoyed a bottle of sparkling Chenin Blanc with blue cheese and truffle crackers. We also encountered lots of tour groups from Singapore.

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Deemed to be the breakfast spot in Margaret River, Margaret River Bakery (89 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285, Australia) was a quaint little café with mismatched furniture. You must get the Banana & Honeycomb Pancakes here. Though I’ve always preferred fluffy pancakes, I indulged in their dense pancakes with crisp burnt edges.  The Chocolate Croissant was just as rich and crisp, with a good amount of diabetes-inducing chocolate hidden within.

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Of the many caves in the Margaret River vicinity, we picked Lake Cave for the best visuals and it turned out to be a well-hosted, informative and eye-opening tour indeed. Nearby, we made a short pitstop at Boranup Forest to snap some photos of the towering, native karri trees.

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For sunset viewing in Margaret River, we went to Surfer’s Point, just a few minutes’ drive away from the Margaret River’s river mouth. Apparently, a good spot to catch surfers but we didn’t manage to catch any in sight.

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Other places visited in Margaret River:

  • Morries – not quite sure of the concept of the restaurant. Decent food.
  • Pizzica – cosy, traditional Italian restaurant that served us a legitimate fare
  • Margaret River Distilling Co. – gin, whisky and cocktail tasting
  • Aravina Estate – yet another vineyard

Our last sunset of the trip was caught at Mandurah, a small city just south of Perth. Specifically, we caught it near Halls Head Beach where barely anyone was around and where we could almost have the entire beach to ourselves.

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Dinner place in Mandurah:

  • Oyster Bar Mandurah – for uniquely flavoured grilled and raw oysters

Apollo Coffee Bar

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My time spent on cafes this year has seen a drastic reduction compared to the previous years and I attribute it to various reasons – wanting to focus on school work, saving for travel, getting a little tired of visiting the same good old favorites and just because there were barely any new cafes which I took a liking to.

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But very thankfully, I got freshened up after visiting the newly opened Apollo Coffee Bar. Having heard that it is reigned by the people behind Atlas Coffeehouse, Lunar Coffee Brewers and Columbus Coffee Co., it was hard not to build expectations and I went with fluttering feelings.

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Being a North-Eastie, the location of the café at Serangoon Gardens feels homely and brings back faint memories of brunches at the now defunct Arbite. The café was lively on a weekday morning and I naturally found myself at the quieter “backyard” lit with sunlight via a transparent roof.

The menu is split into the brunch (9am – 4pm) and lunch menu (12pm onwards), with some familiar dishes from the sister cafes (i.e. pancakes, waffles, soft serve) that I haven’t had in a long time but decided to try new dishes instead.

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Having read good reviews on the Breakfast Burger ($16.50), it went straight to the order list. True enough, there was barely anything to fault at this satisfying dish – the back-bacon slices were thick and juicy, the cheddar-chive scrambled eggs were creamy, and the homemade brioche bun fluffy and savory.

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Featuring poached pears topped on buttery potato bun French toast, the Honey “Prench” Toast ($18.50) tasted best when I cut up a small piece of toast and soft pear and swiped it with a dollop of tangy lemon curd, a dash of fresh cream and a controlled serving of sweet honey before sinking my teeth into it.

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The Super Nutty ($15) Açaí bowl was well-balanced with fruits and nuts and I liked the distinct dark chocolate-y taste in the berry blend.

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A more ordinary item, the Smashin’ Avo ($16.50) was decent but the one thing that left a memorable note was neither the avocado, the soft boiled eggs nor ciabatta but surprisingly the cherry tomatoes which were drizzled in a special sweet sauce.

I also tried the Truffle Fries ($9.50) which although was not the best in Singapore, still had a distinct truffle fragrance and taste sufficient for us to clear the plate (and forget to take a picture of it).

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Drinks-wise, I felt that the Matcha Latte ($6) was on the sweeter side, while the Mocha ($5.50 for reg 7oz, $6.50 for large 9oz) was good and consistent with the ones I had at Atlas and Lunar. I would also recommend to stick to the coffee here, after having a rather weak and limp Chai Latte ($6) on my second visit.

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Having only ordered from the brunch menu, I wouldn’t hesitate to be back for the lunch menu, which is further divided into small and large plates, and also their homemade pastries and cakes on display at the counter.

65 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555961
9am – 10pm Tue to Sat
9am – 7pm Sun

Understated Coffee, Seoul 언더스테이티드 커피, 서울

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Right from its queer location on a quiet street amongst old shop houses and buildings, Understated Coffee is not what you would quite expect from a regular café. Through its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, one can easily see from the outside the interiors of this quaint café. Of course, the white-washed and minimally furnished space played a huge role, but what really stood out to me were the exposed concrete portions, irregular lines and uneven surfaces.

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Turns out that the owner (and main barista) majored in architecture in France and having a major interest in coffee, decided to start a café back in his home country.

While deciding on the beans and coffee to get, the owner kindly explained to me all 3 types of beans that were on the menu. Despite his cool exterior, he was friendly and I could feel his passion in making good coffee. All 3 types of beans I saw that day were sourced overseas, and the main beans that are still constantly in use are those from Belleville Coffee in Paris.

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I got the White (5,000KRW) which I liked a lot. It had a fuller body than other coffees I’ve tried in Seoul while not being too acidic.

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When I went, the only available pastries were their plain butter Scones (3,500KRW), but recently they have launched them in more extravagant flavours, such as earl grey cream, tomato confit fromage and chocolate matcha. The plain scone I had was towards the savory side with a moderate density.

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Though there were 2 other inner rooms for patrons, I decided to take a seat on the round, uneven structure right in the middle, just to admire the slightly penetrating sunlight, the baristas at work, the irregularities of the cafe interiors and the stillness of the street.

1F, 69-1 Mallijaeyet-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

12 to 7pm, Mon – Sat

Autumn in Seoul – 5 Spots to Catch the Fall Foliage

My stay in Korea last year encompassed many firsts in my life – flying alone, living independently of my family, solo travelling… and autumn. My first genuine autumn after 21 years of stale summer in Singapore. It was the season where I never felt like staying indoors, the season where everything seemed to have a sentimental value to it, the season where memories of rough summer days were awashed by freshness. 

In this post I’m sharing a few spots where I saw some unforgettable scenes of fall foliage in Seoul. I’ve actually picked and edited the photos in this post eons ago, but I missed the timing to write it, and eventually resorted to waiting close to a year to get this up. The best time for sight-seeing of foliage in Seoul is from the last week of October to the first week of November!

1. Haneul Park

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Nearest train station: World Cup Stadium

One of the 5 parks of the World Cup Park, Haneul directly translates to ‘Sky’, it’s name befitting of its location on the highest part of the World Cup Park on a hill. To get up, you can either pay a small fee for a tram or climb up 291 steps of stairs. I recommend the latter for the views on the way up, and also since the weather will not make you break out in a sweat. 

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I can’t remember how I first came to know about this park, but when my first time there was actually in the transition phase of Spring to Summer. During that time, the park was not crowded in the slightest bit and filled with mostly green plants, with occasional splashes of colours from planted flowers. Visiting again but in autumn was a different thing altogether – throngs of people (both locals and tourists) and the rich luscious colours of fall created a lovely bustling atmosphere.

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The two most representative plants at the park in autumn are the silver grass and pink muhly grass – though you may find them at spots all over Korea, the fields at Haneul Park are expansively planted with them and divided into specific zones. The best time to go would be at sunset, when the park is tinged with soft, golden light.

2. Campus Tour – Yonsei University

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Nearest train station: Sinchon

Having attended Yonsei University for a short semester, I’ve seen the transition from late summer green to autumn yellow, orange and red like a time-lapse video. The day-to-day anticipation was fluttering, and slightly kept me energised for lessons even. 

Most people know about the main pedestrian path of the school that starts from the main gate and that leads right all the way in to the heart of the school – in autumn, the gingko trees that neatly line this main road turn yellow. However, I preferred the foliage found deep in the remainder of the school – the gingko trees are larger and more densely grown with leaves and more fall colours can be spotted. I snapped these two photos on an uphill road that serves as a side entrance to the school. 

3. Seoul Forest

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Nearest train station: Seoul Forest

When I finally had the time to go to Seoul Forest with my camera, the weather had become much chillier (necessitating a winter jacket) and the season was about to come to its end. While thinking to myself if I had made the wrong choice in making a futile journey, I chanced upon a vast field of yellow fallen leaves. Bare trees grew interspersedly, while the afternoon sun cast their long shadows cast all across the field of yellow, creating a brilliant canvas. I spent a good amount of time there, before moving on and picking out the remaining trees in autumn bloom. A good number of maple trees were still bearing red crowns, thankfully.

P.S. Along Seoulsup-gil which is just right outside the park, there is a small cafe district that I feel is worth heading to after a stroll in the park. 

4. Seodaemun Independence Park

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Nearest train station: Dongnimmun

The fall foliage at this park was an unexpected and surprising find. I alighted at Dongnimmun Station in hopes of finding the path through Ansan Park that would lead me up to Ansan Mountain, but didn’t manage to do so. 

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Instead, I found myself at Seodaemun Independence Park (did not even know the name of the park at that time), an important historic cultural site serving as a remembrance of Korean liberation activists during the Japanese colonial period. It is also the grounds of the Seodaemun Prison History Hall and Museum which was used to hold Korean independence fighters captive. 

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Several other monuments were erected in the park, and there were also many spaces provided for recreational and family activities. The historical site, together with the background of lush foliage in varying colours, created a grandiose sight.

5. Gyeongbokgung

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Nearest Station: Gyeongbokgung

Oh, the classic spot that I just couldn’t leave out of this post, no matter how well-known it already is. There are many spots to admire the fall foliage in the Gyeongbokgung premises and the surrounding neighborhoods, but one of my favorites is that along Hyoja-ro. Running along the West Wall of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the road is methodically planted with gingko trees which turn bright yellow in autumn, and runs through a few neighborhoods like Hyoja-dong, Changseong-dong and Tongui-dong. Compared to the grounds of the palace and the very touristy neighborhoods on the East of the palace (where Bukchon and Samcheong-dong are), the West side is less crowded (with the exception of Tosokchon Samgyetang) and allows you to take in the foliage in a more tranquil manner. 

On the other side of Hyoja-ro, you can expect to find small museums, galleries and cafes, from which you can get a view of the foliage too.

And to Each Season, Gwangju 광주 카페 앤투잋시즌

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On that fine Monday afternoon, the city of Gwangju was oddly quiet. It was my first time stepping foot there, and I realized a little too late that I made a miscalculated move of visiting on a day when many cafes and stores in general were closed. Good thing, that one café I really wanted to visit was opened and my friend whom I went to see in Gwangju kindly brought me there.

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Situated in the café district of Yangnim-dong, And To Each Season opened in summer last year, a permanent spin-off from a design company cum café created by the owner to concentrate on serving coffee.

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Heading right in to the cozy nook of the café, the atmosphere was that of a tiny, snug cottage. I could tell that extra attention was put into the layout and details of the interior. Later, I found out that the furniture is mostly recycled, refurbished and mended by the owner from thrown out furniture… impressive.

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What also caught my eye was the ordering sheet for drinks. On a small piece not much larger than a name card, various options to customize your coffee are presented: First, pick your choice of beans from Brazil (Cerrado NY2), Guatemala (Antigua SHB) or Ethiopia (Yirgacheffe G1). Second, pick your caffeine intensity to be strong or basic. Third, cold or iced. And lastly, your type of coffee – Americano (5000KRW), Latte (5000KRW), or Deep Vanilla (5000KRW). The latte I got was very satisfiable, with the right amount of acidity and flavor I would like in my coffee.

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For non-coffee drinkers, Matcha (6000KRW) and seasonal fruit teas are also offered on the order sheet.

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Since the space was small and trapped sounds easily, I was more than delighted to have the entire café to ourselves, watching the stillness of the neighborhood from translucent white curtains that led in diffused sunlight. Perhaps visiting on a Monday was not such a bad idea after all.

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198-1 Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju, South Korea

12-6pm on weekdays, 12-9pm on weekends

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