Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cavalock and The JFK Shake Shack Connection

If there's ever a go-to meal in New York for me, it's got to be this, Shake Shack at JFK Terminal 4. I don't bother looking for it in the city anymore. Met my friend at the airport as we waited for our connecting flight to Indianapolis, we made a natural beeline to the Shake Shack there and I guess we were so hungry that we forgot what a Shroom Burger was. Yes, it's a mushroom burger but it's also a MUSHROOM burger. A huge crisp-fried cheesy portobello mushroom instead of any beef patty. We forgot what it was but it still tasted absolutely great especially after flying halfway across the world.

And on my way back home, a delicious SmokeShack to end my 2-week gaming odyssey in the US. Now part of me would like to have them open an outlet here but if they do, that's like one less thing to look forward to if I'm ever back there.

Well, if anyone's interested, you can read a little about my Gen Con experience over at HereBeGeeks website. In the meantime, here's my haul of new board games from Indianapolis. Now, I'm not even showing the ton of gaming accessories and expansions to existing games that I bought. So why would I buy them there and carry them all the way back home? Cos the shops here in Singapore would often jerk up the price ridiculously high, like a USD20 game would cost around SGD50.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cavalock Returns To Indianapolis & New York

Hey, I'm back after two weeks in Indianapolis and New York, not that anyone misses me I'm sure. Just like two years ago in August, I was attending Gen Con 2016 in Indianapolis, the biggest boardgame convention in the free world. If you read some of my older posts, you'll know that I'm a huge analog gamer. I have over 50 boardgames and a gazillion cards and miniatures games in my tiny apartment. Gen Con was a blast and I had so much fun, playing and buying the latest boardgames.

I must admit I was kinda apprehensive bout traveling to the U.S. after reading and watching Trump's rise to power. For awhile, I told myself this is not unlike Jesse Owens going to compete in Nazi Germany during the Berlin Olympics. Hey, Indy's Governor is Trump's running mate right? So you never can tell how the locals are going to react to four Asian guys suddenly showing up in their midst.

Fortunately there were no ugly or racist encounters and almost everyone I met was extremely generous and friendly. Alright, more on those games in a future post. And now I ask the question I always ask when I'm back from an overseas trip. Why can't we have this dish/meal here?!? Delicious pulled pork sandwiches. Had it the last time I was in Indy and I was really looking forward to this. It's just pulled pork meat in a naked bun. Nothing fancy, no weird dressings or toppings, just a simple pork sandwich. That glorious tender meat in a soft bun, why can't we have it here? I know preparing the meat takes time plus you need a proper BBQ smoker and all that but come on, other more "complicated" food joints with crazier, bigger kitchenware have opened up here.

Now since everyone's talking about it and playing the game, I thought I'll just share my experience on playing Pokemon Go overseas. My friend helped install the app in my iPhone while we were in the U.S. a few days before it was (finally) available in Singapore, so I had a tiny head start in catching a handful of Pokemon. Wow, J.W. Marriott is Drowzee central. Caught almost a hundred of them while staying there. I also managed to bag the exclusive North America Pokemon, Tauros right in my hotel room.

Then I was alone in New York where I trekked across midtown. That's the layout of Central Park down there. Best experience was the ride back to JFK Airport. Afternoon traffic was bad and that meant slowing down at every intersection, giving me time to catch half a dozen Pokemons in the back of of ride as well as winning one gym fight! Total different Pokemons caught in the U.S. = 75, levelled up to 15 before coming home.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cavalock and The Comfort Food Extinction

So we actually joined the masses in checking out Japanese Food Town, that new row of specialty Japanese restaurants at Wisma Atria. Strolled pass Nabe Seizan and was promptly seduced by the lunch wagyu dashi set meal. We are huge fans of dashi and have never been able to find a good meal here since having it in Japan. Now with it's Japanese Michelin-star lineage, Japanese chefs, ingredients and limited to only 10 lunch sets a day, how could we say 'no'?

Yah, it's a little pricy at S$38 a meal but we really enjoyed it. The Japanese chef came out and described the meal for us. Not often you get this kinda personal touch. Extremely tender beef and the best part was pouring the dashi broth into the rice. Absolutely loved it.

And then came the dessert. Just when we thought the meal couldn't get any better. Another Japanese (pastry?) chef introduced us to an all Japanese-ingredient creation. Sugar pudding with pineapple from Okinawa and Japanese white wine jelly.

Aaarggh!!! What did I ever do to deserve this? What did I ever do to the Michelin Guide that they had to come ruin my comfort food? Now there's no way I'm ever gonna get to eat my favourite bak chor mee thanks to them getting getting a Michelin Star. Yah, of cos they deserve it, it's crazy vinegary good! But with queues starting as early as 9am in the morning and stretching to well over an hour, ain't no way I'm be slurping any of their mee pok noodles anytime soon. Gone are the days when I would drop by for an early dinner at a little after 5pm when I'm done with cleaning the apartment and stand in line for maybe 20 minutes top. And no, if you don't know where they are, I ain't saying.

And now this. Looks like it's catching on! More wash pole patriots!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cavalock and The Annual Washing Pole Visitation

I must have walked past this Marutama Ra-men along Killiney Road a gazillion times to and from my old family home, but I never thought bout dropping in cos I figured it's just like their other outlets around the island, hawking the usual ramen dishes. Oh, how wrong I was.

Three words, Garlic Steak Rice. Tell them how you want the steak done and it comes back you just the way you want it. Sprinkle as much fried garlic as you like over it and trust me, I like them lots. This is so good and a set meal goes for only S$23. I believe this is the only Marutama Ra-men restaurant that serves this dish. I could be wrong. Besides their signature ramen, there are also quite a selection of donburi and sashimi on their menu.

Hey, is it already that time of the year again?!? You bet it is! National Day is never complete for me without this ...er... mesmerising sight of our national flags hanging on bamboo washpoles, fluttering in the wind. Every year, I honestly look forward to this more than any fireworks display especially when the person mixes and matches his or her hanging laundry with the flag. It's priceless.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cavalock and The Sri Hartamas One-Night Stand

So there I was, off to another foreign land! Even it was for a mere 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur to cover a gaming event. Traveling alone is always interesting especially when it comes to looking for food. No plans, no reservations, no maps and often no idea where my next meal will be coming from.

I was in the Sri Hartamas district or township of Kuala Lumpur for a day and prior to that, I had never heard of the place before and decided to look up online about the area. Although there's not much shopping to be done, it's a pretty good or "affluent" neighbourhood with more than a few restaurants and watering holes. Lots of expats too. Kinda reminds of our Holland Village except about three or four times the size I think.

The morning after, my quest for some local breakfast led me to a small and quaint hawker centre. I saw it the previous night on my way back and made a mental note to drop by the next morning. I love street food, its something we don't see anymore here and I think that's a pity. Can hardly go wrong with some KL wanton mee. Not a bad hearty breakfast for only six ringgit. Other breakfast stables I spotted include pork noodles and Penang char kway teow. There was my favourite three-layered tea too but I thought that was way too much gula melaka and evaporated milk for the morning.

A sleepy little slice of KL that I reckon is about a half hour drive to the main city district, well, that's what the concierge told me. And based on my 24-hour stay, I certainly wouldn't mind coming back for a more relaxing stay. What I'm not looking forward to is the hour-long cab ride from the airport. Been ages since I did one of these hit-and-run missions assignments. Heh!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cavalock and The Overdue Obligatory Osaka Food College

Still getting used to the new trackpad of this MacBook Pro. Took awhile but it's time for the obligatory overseas food college. I could go on and on about the incredible food in Osaka however methinks I should take a break. But a couple of shoutouts first.

Tsurugyu restaurant in Osaka, Chuo Ward is so popular that we had to make reservations in Singapore. Great Kobe beef and a very helpful waiter who explained to us, the finer points of Japanese dining. Don't take my word for it, here's a ton of reviews.

We found another Luke's Lobster too near Shinsaibashi Station! Long queue but it moved really fast. Spent some time at Doguyasuji (cooking tools street) where you can find all kinds of kitchenware. Yes, of cos we bought stuff there. As for the wackiest thing we saw in Osaka? Well, I dare say it's this. And no, we didn't bother to step in at all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Cavalock and The Freshness Extraction

So what were the freakin' odds of both my iMac and MacBook Pro both crashing within 24 hours of each other?!? Well, finally back online with a new MacBook Pro and yah, it's still another Osaka post.

We have now made it a point to always lug back some fresh produce whenever we are overseas. This Japan trip, it was more juicy tomatoes and peaches again. These gorgeous peaches hail form Yamanashi, that number one producer of grapes, peaches and plums in Japan. Hey, how's that for something educational? You do learn something here at this blog after all. ;)

Bought two boxes of tomatoes, each for about S$20 I believe. Saw them on sale here in our local supermarkets for about 3x price. Same with the peaches. Ridiculously priced. Seriously why do people still buy stuff here? I mean, almost everything here is way too expensive. I stopped buying stuff here ages ago. In Tokyo last year and Osaka this year, I got a couple Uniqlo t-shirts and a short-sleeved Beams shirt, and that's all the wardrobe I need for the next few years. Oh yah, there was a pair of pretty cool sneakers from Bangkok too. But really, almost everything you find elsewhere is so cheap compared to what's on sale here. Some days I really do wonder why our neighbours come here to shop in the first place. And don't get me started on the food.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cavalock and The Sake Kit Kat Odyssey

Not unlike some mythical beast, the Sake Kit Kat was perhaps the most elusive snack on my shopping list, well, it was actually the only snack on the list. Anyway, I first read of this rather unique Kit Kat online several months ago and was hoping to find it this Japan trip. After several futile attempts with the confectionaries around the Namba area of Osaka, we found ourselves in the tourist trap heartland of Dotonbori, back after almost a decade. Stepped into the first souvenir snack shop and there it was on the shelf.

You definitely can't ignore that slight whiff of sake when you first peel open the lid. Looks like any other white Kit Kat bit with a slight boozy taste or flavour to it. Come on, it's just Kit Kat, you ain't getting a shot outta a sake glass! Still a good enough snack, a little different and worth a try if you are into Kit Kat. But fer crying out loud, please don't pay the ridiculously high price a certain Japanese snack shop here in Singapore is charging for it.

These days, my shopping priorities have changed a great deal since my first trip to Japan 10 years ago. Gone are the hours spent tracking anime merchandise, AV stuff and action figures to display around the office or home. Now it's purchasing fresh produce, eating at finer establishments and buying the latest Japanese boardgames.

This trip's boardgame purchases were fewer than last year's two Tokyo trips. Dairyman (love the packaging!) is a short and fun dice rolling game where you race to convert whatever milk you have into other more profitable products such as cheese and ice-cream. Joraku is me best buy for this trip. An area control game using the familiar trick-taking mechanic. Simple rules yet the gameplay comes with lots of depth. I have yet to play Village of Familiars. And then there's Sanzen Sekai, the synopsis below doesn't do it justice. It is a fun card game that is uniquely Japanese that's really suitable for all ages. There is another game that I bought called Diet And Friends or the New Method Diet Card Game, unfortunately the rules aren't in English so it's still sitting in the box today.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cavalock and The Unagi Fulfillment

So how far would you travel for what may well be the best unagi meal you ever had? Well, I spent the early morning travelling by train from Osaka to Kyoto, then climbed aboard the old "Sagano Romantic Train" before arriving at scenic Arashiyama, trekked through the fabled bamboo forest before standing in line for almost an hour at the popular Unagi Hirokawa restaurant, just in time for lunch.

Annnnnd it was worth every minute of that long trek. Charcoal-grilled unagi, that'll almost melt in your mouth. Definitely worth the wait if you are ever in the area. I dare say we were seriously spoilt after this. I doubt if any unagi meal back home would come close to this. And the funny thing is, it was only after we returned home did we remember that it was a one-Michelin star restaurant. Hah!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cavalock and The Matcha Manifestation

You just can't get enough of matcha in Japan especially when you are in Osaka and Kyoto, yah, I was in Kyoto too. More on that in another post. You can smell it a mile away, the matcha bakery is something I couldn't get enough of. You know that strong matcha aroma you are getting in Kyoto is the real deal. Wish I snapped a pix of the bun's centre, well just use your imagination of more gorgeous matcha cream flowing its centre.

And now this. Once again in the why-the-hell-can't-we-have-this-here department, found this entire rack of DIY miniature shops and houses in Tokyu Hands. If only I had any more shelf space that aren't already filled with Lego constructions, boardgames or books. Yah, I would definitely consider buying and building one of these Japanese minis.