Makeful: Inspiring The Creatives At Heart

2018-09-19 14.44.47 (640x367)It’s always fun to see creative people making something out of nothing — whether it’s as simple as folding cranes out of paper, or making a cartoon character come to life with balls of rice. So it was great to know that to mark its Asia debut on Starhub TV Channel 436, lifestyle specialty channel Makeful HD is launching the #MakefulInspires movement—in collaboration with IKEA Singapore—that will showcase talented Singapore makers through short clips shown on their channel , as well as a series of workshops that aim to stir passion and creativity in every Singaporean.

At the Makeful HD launch held at IKEA Tampines, Musings on the M49 (MOTM49) got to meet three of the five local makers featured in the Makeful shorts. These are scheduled to be shown in eight slots daily on the channel inbetween regular programming starting from October and will also be shared on Makeful’s various digital platforms.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Food Artist Shirley Wong (@littlemissbento)

First up was Ms Shirley Wong, famously known as @LittleMissBento on Instagram (ISG) and highly popular for her amazing character creations for Japanese bento lunch box sets, which range from cutesy Disney creatures to Japanese manga icons. It was nice to meet the affable food artist again as I’m a big fan, faithfully following her every creation on ISG. For the launch, Shirley had specially made the cute panda set pictured above, which seriously can make adults, let alone kids, eat all their vegetables obediently!

Ms Wong revealed that she only works towards creating a “designer” meal once every day, which means, yes, her family gets to eat “normal” looking food too. She also disclosed that she does do sketches of what she plan to create the night before as it will easier to visualize it as well as knowing what ingredients she will need. When asked by MOTM49  what characters are the most difficult to make, Ms Wong said, “Definitely the manga characters as you have to get the whole look right, from the eyes to the hair.”

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Bespoke, Up-cycled and Handmade Furniture Maker Jackie Tan of Triple Eyelid Studio (@tripleeyelid)

Next up was the thorn among the roses, Jackie Tan whose company Triple Eyelid designs custom-made furniture based on materials that the clients provide which can range from beer crates to leftover marble stabs. That is seriously very cool considering we all need to do our bit to reduce environmental waste as much as possible. Take for example the 50 bespoke mooncake crates pictured above which he made from reused wood for a corporate client.

Another creative item he made was using the bottom half of an old manual sewing machine and simply attached  a wooden top on it—and voila!—a unique and totally usable table! The special phone stands on the right were what the media received in our goodie bag. Lovely.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Paper and Mixed Media Craft Maker Aida Haron (@aidaville)

Memories are big with Aida Haron and hence just hand her a bunch of colored pens, colored papers, various embellishments, and photographs, and she can create a handmade scrapbook layout for you. The former flight attendent loves to remember the good moments in life and would like to help others to remember theirs too, which brings her much joy. Aida’s art pieces come in all forms – it can be as big as wall plaques or as handy as greeting cards such as the ones below.


Makeful Workshops and Contest

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Aida Haron at her workdesk. [Credit: Makeful Asia]

As part of the #MakefulInspires movement, Aida will be the first local maker to kick off the series of quarterly Makeful workshops. Starting on Saturday October 13, 2018 and to be held at IKEA Alexandria, the Aida Haron craft-making workshop is exclusive to Makeful fans, Starhub subscribers and Aida’s social media followers. There will also be a contest from October 15 where members of the public will get a chance to win an IKEA Gift Card worth $1,000. For more details, visit Makeful’s Facebook page @bemakeful.

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Shirley Wong totally engrossed in her next creation. [Credit: Makeful Asia]


Don’t forget to catch the Makeful shorts on Singapore makers on the Makeful channel or its social media platforms.

Makeful HD, part of Blue Ant Media, is available via Starhub TV Channel 436.

 

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Gemmills @ Gemmill Lane

2018-05-11 18.53.39 (640x640)A church mate and I wanted to try something off the beaten track for dinner one evening but we didn’t expect it was going to be that tough to find Gemmills. Technically its address is 110 Amoy Street but to locate its entrance, you need to first get into Amoy Alley, then turn right into a back alley off Gemmill Lane to find this quaint little wine bar that serves all-day dining.

The place was small and dim, but still rather charming thanks to its rustic decor. Tables are tiny too and we reckoned Gemmills is more popular as a place to wine rather than to dine. Its one-page Mediterranean-influenced menu is not extensive, not exactly cheap either, but fascinating nonetheless. Half of it were appetizers priced between SGD$6-$12, most seem very vegetarian (albeit healthy sounding), and “meaty” main courses ($18-32) seem to comprise mainly two fish dishes ($32) and one whole roast chicken ($50). Besides desserts (@$12), there is a decent selection of wines, cocktails, beers and ciders, juices, gourmet coffee and tea.

2018-05-11 18.57.12 (560x640)Since it’s a wine place, we kicked off with the house wines which were just $10 per glass during Happy Hour (5-7pm, Mon to Thu). I love my red but my friend’s white was quite bland. Luckily they served water as well so my pal was happy to go with that thereafter, while I had another glass of red.

2018-05-11 19.02.44 (640x605)As one of our starters, we ordered a House Baked Sourdough ($6) served with herbal butter which was quite nice. Although the crust was hard as rock, the inside was super soft and tasted really yummy with the butter.

2018-05-11 19.03.01 (635x640)We also had the Cold Cuts Board ($18) which was actually sufficient as a dish by itself. Lots of delicious slices of different kinds of ham, a generous dosh of salad, and even came with sourdough bread. Service was on the whole great but we felt that the waiter could have helped by letting us know how big the portions for each dish is, and – as there is bread with the cold cuts board – that we may not need to order a separate bread item (unless we wanted to). Still, they were considerate enough to give us two tables considering the amount of food we ordered. As you can see, the platter above plus our wines took up a whole table by itself. I’m not kidding when I say the tables are small…

2018-05-11 19.03.10 (640x640)We also had an Endive Salad ($10), a neat medium-sized bowl piled to the brim with slices of endives, hazel nuts, feta cheese and burnt honey. I don’t think I ever ate an endive in my iife but for this carnivore, this salad was one of the best “cow food” I’ve ever eaten. Crunchy, sweet, tangy and fragrant, just so many flavors in one dish.

2018-05-11 19.12.35 (615x640)Being a carnivore, I would have gone for the roast chicken item but at $50 and a whole chicken at that, there was no way the two of us could finish it. So instead we went for the Barramundi ($32) served with acid onions, leeks and salmarejo. The portion was so small – it was less than 2-in square – both of us were glad we didn’t order this as a main each! And the wood plate itself – gorgeous as it is – took up a quarter of the table! All said, the fish was very very well-cooked, thankfully. Soft, fresh and extremely tasty. For the price though, we could have order two or three other appetizers.

All in all, the quality of the food and the quaint ambience – dim as it was, I assume it’s brighter in the day – made Gemmills a nice experience. We were later told by the waitress that it’s managed by the same people who also runs Maggie Joan’s next door and Moosehead. Cool, two more places with good food (we assume) to try out in future then.

Gemmills is at 110 Amoy Street, #01-02 (entrance via Gemmill Lane). Opens 12nn-11pm (Mon-Thu), 10am-12mn (Fri) and 6pm-11pm (Sat). Closed on Sundays.

 

Plonk @ Serangoon Gardens

2018-04-04 22.05.21 (640x447)Had a gathering with ex-colleagues from my TV days a couple of Wednesdays ago and the venue of choice was Plonk, a rather cool food and wine bar in Serangoon Gardens. Housed in a two-storied terrace house, the place certainly looks warm and inviting, with service staff greeting you at the entrance.

Downstairs is where the bar is with a long table in the centre. Upstairs, dining tables are spaciously placed but what is really captivating is the number of colorful artpieces and stylish photographs that lined the walls as decor.

2018-04-04 19.24.38 (640x640)The food and ambience at Plonk is described as Mediterranean with a dash of Australian. The extensive menu with clearly-named categories seems to cater much to large groups as sharing is much encouraged starting with the “Sharing is Caring” appetizers; the meat, seafood and pasta items in “The Main Attraction”; a variety of salads in “A Healthy Kick”; 10 kinds of pizzas from “In Crust We Trust”; and finally, four dessert choices in “the Grand Finale”. Beverages wise, there’s a wide selection of wines, beers, cocktails and gourmet coffees to choose from.

2018-04-04 19.50.52 (640x640)As there was six of us, sharing was the obvious choice. We kicked off with the appetizers as of course those came first. The Housemade Beetroot Yoghurt, Hummus And Pesto Dips Served With Toast ($16) was lovely although I can live without the beetroot yoghurt which others seem to enjoy. A very nice starter was the Patatas Bravas With Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise ($12, seen top right), which are potato cubes fried in a spicy tomato sauce and so good that we ordered another plate.

2018-04-04 19.50.47 (640x640)Another delightful item was the Seared Halloumi With Watermelon, Shallot And Accompanied By Raspberry Reduction ($13). The mini slabs of halloumi, a traditional semi-hard white cheese originating from Cyprus, were deeply savory and its unique flavor further enhanced by the robust shallot and sweet watermelon.

One thing for sure, Plonk’s pizzas are very good and best of all, they are all thin-crust. We first ordered the Truffle ($25) which is generously sprinkled with forest mushrooms, shaved parmesan and (we think) dashes of truffle. It was delicious and it didn’t take us long to decide that we should order another one for our second round.
2018-04-04 20.34.15 (640x640)Our first “add-on” was a pasta – we had the Seafood Linguin Aglio Olio Style ($24) that came with jumbo prawns, calamari, blue mussels and baby scallops. The pasta was delicious but as every person took a piece of seafood each, all I can tell you that they were all fresh and tasty.
2018-04-04 20.35.41 (640x640)So glad we ended on a great taste – we had the Four Cheese pizza ($25), a bright yellow beauty comprising mozzarella, blue cheese, cheddar and parmesan. Every bite was a delight. We only later learnt that it’s 1-for-1 pizza on Tuesday evenings. If we have known earlier, we would have come a day earlier. Never mind, next visit will be on a Tuesday for sure.
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My choice of poison for the night is this Italian beer. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is a Euro pale lager is crisp and refreshing. Created in 1963 with the finest hops, the name – I googled -means “Blue Ribbon” in honor of an Italian ocean liner which crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest time in 1933. Better than naming it the Titanic I guessed, haha! Good beer.

Besides the good food, what really made our evening really great was the fact that we had the whole second floor to ourselves, making lots of noise (as always) without bothering everyone else. We thought it must be a quiet Wednesday night until we trooped downstairs after paying up and saw that it was packed like sardines on the ground floor.

All in all, Plonk was a delight – from its great pizzas to the artworks adorning its wall to the attentive service. We paid $26++ each which was really decent considering the amount of food we ordered. Definitely a place we can make a return to.

Plonk is at 7 Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens Estate, Singapore 556685. Opens daily from Mon-Fri (11am to late) and Sat-Sun (9am to late).

Joan Bowen Cafe @ Jln Wangi

20170830_192913 (640x640)A bunch of ex colleagues from my TV days met up recently and we decided to go to Joan Bowen Cafe, a social enterprise off MacPherson Road. Besides decent food, the casual cafe is well known for hiring staff with special needs, which the manageress took care to tell us at the start in case “service is not up to par”. But seriously, there is really nothing to complain about “The Special Culinary Centre” which has been running for close to seven years now.

The place, which has a vibrant art theme, is certainly much brighter and cheerier than my last visit a few years back. Next to their popular pasta and salad items, the menu has also been expanded to include more meat dishes and Japanese favorites.
20170830_193033 (640x622)We kicked off with this wonderful Salmon Skin Salad ($12/$18) that has crispy Salmon Skin served with mixed vegetables dripped with a lovely plum and sesame dressing. It was so good, we ordered another one! (Either that or we were really hungry!)
20170830_193853 (640x612)As majority of us were wine lovers, we asked for a bottle of red which was strong and flavorful, and at just $28, it was seriously more than fine. You can opt to bring your own bottles but there is a corkage fee of $15 for each bottle. They do serve an assortment of beers from $9, while house pour wine per glass costs $10.
20170830_194717 (640x640)As with most of my food-loving friends, each of us would try to order different dishes so we can sample each other’s food. I went for the Duck Leg Confit ($18) as I’m love the dish and am still looking for the best one on this sunny island of ours.  This wasn’t the best I tasted thus far but it was decent as the skin was crisp and the meat, though a tad dry, was still savory enough. Love the mashed potato and salad that came with it.
20170830_194044 (640x604)This rich-looking Chili Crab Pasta ($18) is a Joan Bowen Specialty and the folks who ordered it were highly satisfied with it. The gravy was spicy, chock-ful of spices and crab meat. (For me, I rather dip bread into chili crab gravy but that’s just me).
20170830_194054 (640x640)This was another interesting dish. It’s Grilled Beef Cubes in Skewers ($28) which is simply a fanciful name for Beef Satay. It’s a good choice if you love grilled meat. Not too light and not too heavy either.
20170830_193955 (640x640)This was actually the first order that arrived to the table and we were stunned by the generous portion – that’s two solid chicken thighs there, ladies and gentlemen! It was nice and tasty but way too much for one person unless you are really really into chicken. The pan-seared Rosemary & Lemon Chicken ($15) is marinated with rosemary, fresh lemon and garlic. Flavorful and chewy, it’s definitely value for money!
2017-08-30 20.56.41 (640x640)We had a great laugh when it came to dessert. We were all so full that we decided to order one Oreo Cheesecake ($3) and one Brownie a la mode (3) to share among 8 of us Let me tell you right now that each serving is meant for one person’s consumption and one person only! No wonder the waiter kinda rolled his eyes when he delivered it and smirked when we have the audacity to ask for eight spoons! We eventually ordered a few more of each, haha! The warm brownie with melted vanilla ice-cream is da bomb (pictured above, front) and highly recommended. The Oreo cheesecake (the one behind)  – “possibly the smallest cheesecake in the world”, as one friend quipped –  is alas simply a frozen mousse with cheese and cream; it tastes like frozen Oreo but that’s it.

At the end, our combined meal (comprising wine, main course, dessert and coffee) only cost us $30 each. Joan Bowen Cafe is a great place for dining either on your own or in groups. The only snag is that it is rather inconvenient to get to if you don’t have a car or a direct bus to MacPherson. The nearest MRT is Potong Pasir and even then that’s about a 20-minute walk to the cafe. Still, if you are in or around the area, do check it out as it’s a nice place to dine in and it has a great serving staff.

Joan Bowen Cafe is at 9 Jalan Wangi.

‘Tis the Season…

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Greetings from Singapore – Merry Christmas to one and all across the globe! Blessing  you with the Season’s Wishes & Dreams of Joy, Peace and Hope! May all your days be merry and bright during this Yuletide period and throughout the New Year!

(The beautiful view above of the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and Marina Bay Sands was taken from Aura, a bar and lounge which lies atop the National Gallery Singapore.)

Photo Credit: Marguerita Tan/Musings on the M49

 

Daessiksin Korean BBQ Buffett @ Bugis+

2016-12-17-18-39-24-640x480What’s the best to do after watching an adrenaline rush of a film such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Go for a hearty, meaty buffet dinner of cos. And best thing about catching a movie at Filmgarde Cineplex at Bugis+ is that there is DaeSsikSin, the popular Korean BBQ Buffet restaurant just a floor below.
2016-12-17-18-35-31-640x482Good thing our movie ended about 6.15pm (on a Saturday) ‘cos just before 7pm, the place was packed. And it was easy to understand why: the meats alone were well worth the price per person ($24.90 adult, $18.90 child, all-day weekend). Beef choices alone has short rib, short plate, marinated ribeye, and beef bulgogi, all sliced up in generous portions. Pork choices were great too with the likes of pork belly and pork collar, all nicely sliced and fresh. There were various chicken choices too but our focus were mainly on the red meats.
2016-12-17-18-36-08-640x389There wasn’t much seafood choices but the prawns were big and fresh, and we decide to forgo the octopus to leave more room for the meats.
2016-12-17-18-36-02-640x498The vegetable selection is not extensive too but seriously, what more do you need besides lettuce, onions and mushrooms?
2016-12-17-18-36-19-640x353Ok, there’s also creamy corn and sweet tomatoes, but don’t forget this is a Korean restaurant so there’s a big helping of kimchi (sorry, just out of the picture above on the right) and a good number of condiments such as spicy chili paste and sliced red and green chili in soy sauce. There’s also a couple of cooked food items such as kimchi pancakes and roasted sweet potatoes, as well soups, white rice and kimchi rice. Soft drinks are free-flow too as they are included in the meal price.
2016-12-17-18-47-05-480x640For a BBQ place, the place doesn’t have that smoky feel, probably thanks to the extendable exhaust pipes that hang above very table. The cooking hot plate didn’t generate much heat too, unlike other BBQ places we’ve been (but it did cook the food efficiently). So all in all, it was a very enjoyable experience.
2016-12-17-18-44-10-640x480Here’s a close-up of the meat portions. Goodness know how many plates of beef short ribs we went back for – and there were three of us – ‘cos it was just so darn good!
2016-12-17-19-05-19-640x384Before we began picking our food, the waitress did mention that if we could finish up by 90 minutes, it would be great. “Oh, will you throw us out if we don’t?” we asked innocently. She gave a cheesy grin so we waved her away, saying, “Don’t worry, we will be done by then.” Well, my sister-in-law and I were stuffed by 90 minutes although my brother could go on for another hour. Not that I blame him, these buffets are really worth it for the guys (and girls with big appetites – I used to be one, no longer, sob…) We have absolutely no complaints about the offerings, all were in good portions and utterly fresh. Definitely a place we will come back again and again…

Daessiksin Korean BBQ Buffet is at 201 Victoria Street, Bugis Plus #04-05. On weekdays, there’s a two-hour limit per table. Lunch: $14.90 adult, $8.90 child; Dinner: $24.90 adult, $18.90 child. Weekends, PH and eve of PH: 1.5 hrs limit per table. All-day: $24.90 adult, $18.90 child

Update: DaeSsikSin Korean BBQ Buffet has opened another outlet at The Clementi Mall. Read my review of it here.

Open Door Policy @ Yong Siak Street

2016-09-11-18-31-20-480x640Had another belated Hatched Day treat recently and my friend and I opted to check out Open Door Policy (ODP), located in the hipster enclave of Tiong Bahru (Yong Siak Street, to be precise), which serves contemporary European cuisine.

Having walked from Tiong Bahru Plaza onto Yong Siak Street, we almost missed the restaurant as our attention was instead caught by a notebook vending machine at the nearby Books Actually. Thanks to ODP being a PoGo Pokestop, we realised we had bypass it and quickly retrace our steps back down the lane.

The restaurant has a greenhouse feel thanks to the real herbs and garnishes planted in wooden shelves with cute signages along the wall, against which dining tables face through the entire length of the premises. It also has an open kitchen concept where you can also sit at and see the five chefs in action, with a small bar area next to it near the entrance.
2016-09-11-18-35-19-527x640It was only when I asked for their range of beer did we realised that the menu at ODP is now “100% gluten-free and dairy-free”. Which was no problem with us actually and I got to try my first gluten-free beer ever. They only have two beer choices so I went for the lager  – Green’s Dry Hopped Lager pours golden with a little head and has a fruity, citrus and hoppy taste. “Naturally gluten & wheat free”, it’s not a bad taste but it’s definitely not what you would call a “manly beer”. The wine list is understandably more extensive and there’s a decent selection of cocktails and mocktails as well.
2016-09-11-18-40-36-538x640 The ODP menu comprises starters, mains, sides and desserts and is not jam-packed with items to choose from. Which sometimes is better so you don’t have to wreck your brain trying to figure out what to eat. For the appetisier, we decided to go for the Endive Gratin ($22, pictured above) which is premium smoked ham with red apples and veal jus.  It was an artistically well-presented dish and certainly unique in both style and taste.
2016-09-11-19-00-51-556x640For mains, my pal chose the Pan Seared Crispy Quail ($34) with turnips and chickepeas casserole and banana shallot. The quail meat was well-seasoned and tasty and we love the chickpeas. Just found the taste of the turnips different from the one we are used to and also, we couldn’t detect any banana flavour from the banana shallot. Maybe they meant banana-shaped shallots? (We were too hungry to ask…)
2016-09-11-19-01-31-534x640I opted for the Braised Veal Ossobuco ($32) with carrot risotto and smoked parika. Must confess that the carrot risotto took a while to get used to – the texture was fine but the carroty flavour… well, you can truly feel the “healthiness” of it all. No complaints about the veal which was tender and succulent, down to the bone marrow.

Our food choices didn’t exactly wow us but all in all, a nice experience at a place with good ambience. Damage came up to about $70 per person.

Open Door Policy is at 19 Yong Siak Street.