Japan Day 4 – Square Enix Artnia Cafe

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Since we had some time to spare in the evening after our trip to the Ghibli Museum, we decided to head back to our place in Shinjuku and drop our bags off at our AirBnB and head out again within the area to the cafe.

Getting there was a little tricky at first as we didn’t really do our research before hand on how to get there. But if you have a pocket wifi with you, it should be pretty easy to navigate your way there (I’ve included the address at the bottom of this post).

After asking around various shops, convenience stores and random passerbys, we found our first landmark which was the iconic Square Enix headquarters in Shinjuku. Gamers and Final Fantasy fans would be in awe when you see this building. It’s literally the place where all those famous games are created. Being a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise myself, this was a really cool experience. The cafe itself is right next to it and you will be able to easily identify it by the various sign boards and its’ unique egg design.

Inside there’s another room which is a gallery featuring a number of figurines of characters from their franchise. Continue reading

Singapore: Airbnb at Tiong Bahru

Last week I made a trip back to Singapore. It’s been about a year since my secondment and i’m back again but this time for a company training session. Since the training is on a Monday and Tuesday, I figured I might as well spend my weekend in Singapore as well. I spent a night at an Airbnb before moving to my hotel. The Airbnb was a cozy studio apartment located in Tiong Bahru.

The place is in a nice quiet neighbourhood not too far off from the Tiong Bahru mrt station. I took the MRT directly from Changi Airport. Simply follow the signs to the the MRT and catch either side of the trains as both of them head towards Tanah Merah. Once you reach Tanah Merah, get off the correct side (towards Jurong East). Then it’s just a direct ride all the way to Tiong Bahru. The train ride itself takes about 40mins or so. Then it’s a quick walk from the station to the apartment. Took me about 15mins walk from the station and it’s reasonably sheltered throughout most of the way. However if you’re carrying a lot of luggage, it would probably be best to take a cab there as I initially got lost and ended up walking a lot more than I thought while lugging by bags with me. But after a while, you get more familiar with the place and it’s a pretty direct route.

Above the Tiong Bahru mrt station is a small mall where you can grab a quick meal or get some necessities before you continue off to the apartment. The apartment itself is above P.S Cafe Petit which is a smaller scale version of the popular P.S Cafe restaurant (you can see my blog post on the branch at Harding Road here). They have a nice selection of cakes, pizzas and breakfast choices. They’re also open until pretty late (last order at 10.30pm).

The place was rather secure with two points of security (electronic access pad for you to enter the passcode) before you reach your room. Also take note that the place is one floor up a flight of stairs. So keep that in mind if you’re carrying huge luggage. But it wasn’t an issue for me as I was just traveling with a small luggage bag. It’s generally a very small space (quite common in Singapore), but it had everything I needed in one space. As you can see from the pictures, it’s complete with a queen size bed, tv mounted on the wall, small cooking area with electric stove, washing machine, fridge, basin, and a table for two. It also comes with complimentary wifi. The bathroom was also small but had the basic things I needed including towels, hair dryer, facial tissue, hand soap and body wash.

Overall it was a great stay and definitely value for money. You can check out the listing here. Also if you haven’t tried Airbnb before, do give it a try! First time users get a discount if you sign up through my link which you can find in the sidebar. ;)

 

 

Marjorina Cafe

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I say it’s about time for Kajang to have its fair share of hipster cafes too! This pleasant coffee shop is located in Taman Prima Saujana tucked in between a row of shop houses just in front of Giant Kajang.

Like most hipster cafes it’s menu is catered towards the brunch or dessert crowd. We ordered the lemon cheese mille crepe (RM13), strawberry custard pie (RM14) and hazelnut latte (RM11).

The lemon cheese mille crepe was really good! The lemon taste wasn’t too strong and just nice and mild which goes well with the light taste of the cream. The strawberry custard pie was unfortunately quite dry and the taste was just alright. The hazelnut latte on the other hand was pretty good and up to expectations as far as hipster cafes go.

In terms of design, one feature that stands out is this lovely hand-drawn mural on their wall. Other than the hand-painted drawings, the cafe is decked out in industrial-like tables and chairs which adds on to its’ quirky design. They also play some nice soft music in the background which makes it a good place to chat and relax. It also wasn’t too crowded when we went there despite being a weekend (we went on a Sunday afternoon).

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Location:
Marjorina Cafe
C-35-GB, Jalan Prima Saujana 2/E,
Seksyen 2, Taman Prima Saujana,
43000 Kajang, Selangor

Contact number: +6012-488 3644
Email: marjorinacafe@gmail.com
Social Media: Facebook || Instagram

 

 

Expat Life: Week 10 – Maison Ikkoku, Makansutra & Coconut Icecream at Esplanade

Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street

I stopped over at this cafe for a cup of coffee after walking along the streets of Haji Lane. The place is located along the same road as the Malay Heritage Centre and also pretty close to the Sultan Mosque. So finding the place wasn’t really difficult. I managed to navigate my way there at night and I would admit my sense of direction is pretty bad. So for me to find it effortlessly would mean that it’s definitely not difficult for everyone else.

The cafe is located on the ground floor while the the other floor above is apparently a bar according to their website. I didn’t venture upstairs but settled in nicely at a table near the door. I loved the fact that this place is not overcrowded even on a weekend. I tend to travel with my laptop and park myself at a table for a couple of hours. So it’s great to find a cosy and quiet spot. Another plus point is that they play some really nice chill music in the background. Some of the tracks playing that night was the likes of Ed Sheeran and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.

I initially ordered the French Toast with Berries. However they noticed that I was Malay and helpfully pointed out that this contained alcohol and suggested the Banana Caramel French Toast instead. Plus points for the helpful tip and also for noticing that i’m Malay (people somehow always mistaken me as a different race). The Banana French Toast itself was a nice sweet treat to compliment my latte.

Makansutra & Co+Nut+Ink Coconut Ice Cream at The Esplanade

I had a friend visiting from KL so I asked my colleagues around for some good spots to have dinner which led to Makansutra (also known as  Gluttons Bay). The place is located near The Esplanade and home to a couple of local style stalls and seafood. We settled for the the seafood stall furthest to the end near the river. Ordered the sambal grilled fish, clams and a plate of stir-fry vege in garlic sauce to go along with a bowl of white rice. We also had whole coconuts for drinks. The seafood was alright but I’ve had better at a fraction of the cost back in KL. Still worth a visit if you’re not from this side of the world and wanting a taste of some asian flavors by the river.

After dinner we took a walk along The Esplanade and stopped for some coconut ice cream at Co+Nut+Ink (yes more coconut goodness!). I ordered the one with Red Ruby (Sago) and it was really refreshing and light with a mild tinge of sweetness from the sago. Coincidentally the light show was also starting up and we got to enjoy our ice creams with an amazing view.

Expat Life: Week 6 – 7 – Bugis Street, La Marelle Boutique Cafe and Anchorpoint

This week was all about budget shopping and snagging great deals. Singapore is known to be quite costly in terms of shopping as compared to back home in Malaysia. However if you know where to go, you can grab some really great deals here too!

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It’s no secret that Bugis Street is “THE” place to go to for a cheap and affordable shopping trip. You can get just about anything here from clothes to shoes, to touristy souvenirs and food. To get here you simply take the MRT to Bugis station and it’s directly across the road upon exiting the station. The place consists of 3 floors so do take your time and explore all floors. A lot of the shops also sell pretty similar items, so I would advise you to check out all the stores first before buying. I admit it’s a little difficult to avoid impulse buying when all the stuff are so cheap, but it definitely is worth waiting out. I got great deals for all my clothes. Ended up walking away with 2 tops, 2 bangles and 1 structured midi A line skirt which i’ve been searching high and low for. So glad I finally found the perfect one at only $15! I also grabbed a necklace set and a pair of studs from Lovisa at one of the malls (can’t remember which one lol). Anyway Lovisa was having a store-wide sale up to 70% off. Below is a list of the stuff I got with the pictures and price.

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Black embellished sleeveless top – $15 || Blue structured short sleeve blouse (Shop Name: Cupid) – $15 || 2 Bangles (Shop Name: Lumi) – $10 || Necklace set with earrings (Shop Name: Lovisa) – $9 || Anchor-shaped studs (Shop Name: Lovisa) – $2

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Dark blue midi A line skirt (Shop Name: Fresh) – $15

After a good shopping spree, it was time to grab a bite and I headed down to La Marelle Boutique Cafe situated along Baghdad Street. It’s not too difficult to find the place. Once you’re at Baghdad street just look out for a mural on the wall which has the name of the cafe painted on it. The place is situated on the 2nd floor and it’s easy to spot the entrance as the staircase is brightly colored in hot pink.

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I really love the bright and unique interior. It’s also one of the few hipster cafes in Singapore which are halal. I tend to have really late lunches on weekends so by the time I reached the place it was already around 4pm. I ordered this really cool coffee called “The Nutty Professor” ($6.50). It’s basically an espresso popsicle in a cup of nutella and a side of milk. You basically just pour the milk in and keep stirring till the coffee popsicle melts and blends in with the milk and nutella. Really good stuff! I also ordered the “Ultime Breakfast” ($18) which consists of 3 pieces of buttered bruschetta bread, 2 sausages, a couple pieces of various meat slices, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans. Yes it was a LOT. It was pretty good but nothing to rave about. I would probably check out their other stuff next time. The desserts looked really good though. But alas I was too stuffed. So i’ll save that for next time.

Some interesting sights at Parkview Square while walking back to Bugis MRT station.

The following day I decided to check out the outlet stores at Anchorpoint. I heard the stuff there have discounts up to 70% and I was particularly keen on checking out the Charles & Keith and Cotton On outlets there. The place is situated across from Ikea. I took the MRT to Queenstown station then headed towards exit 1 and walked to the bus stop. From there I took bus number 195 and stopped at the 2nd stop (right in front of Ikea). As you alight from the bus, just head to the right and walk towards the overhead bridge to get across to the other side where Anchorpoint is located.

My first stop was of course Charles & Keith. As soon as I stepped in I got really excited after checking out the price tags. High heels as cheap as $19! That’s a steal! Best of all the shop wasn’t overly crowded despite the huge discounts. Sure there were quite a lot of people but it wasn’t terribly bad. So I had the leisure of taking my time to really scour through the shoes and find a number of great deals. I ended up buying 2 pairs which only costed me $41.80 in total!

Lilac Heels – $21.90 || White and black strappy wedges – $19.90

After that I dropped by Cotton On. Found a couple of racks filled with clothes worth $10 and below. But I didn’t find anything particularly eye-catching. So onto the next store, I checked out Typo just because I love quirky stationary. Didn’t really plan on getting anything but I couldn’t help it. The heart-shaped corkboard was only $2 and the super adorable pineapple-shaped ice tray was only $3! So I spent a total of just $5 there. What a great deal and I can’t wait to test out those pineapple-shaped ice cubes!

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Heart-shaped corkboard – $2 || Pineapple-shaped ice tray – $3

If you’re a fan of brands such as Charles & Keith, Cotton On, Giordano, G2000, and Typo, definitely check out the outlets in Anchorpoint. Well worth the trip there!

Expat Life: Week 5 – P.S Cafe Harding Road and Botanic Gardens

My friends and I decided to do brunch and did a quick search online for a good spot and found great reviews on P.S Cafe specifically the one at Harding Road. It was the ambience that had drawn us in. It’s located in lush greenery and the place itself was well decorated in wide glass windows which really took advantage of the beautiful location.

We took a train to Botanic Gardens MRT station and it was a quick 5min cab to the place. We arrived at around 3pm and luckily for us it was a rather off peak hour so the queue wasn’t so bad. The cool thing about this place is that they have a computer-based ticketing system. All you have to do is indicate the number of pax and your phone number. Once there’s a free table, the system will ring you up on your phone and let you know that your table is ready. Since we avoided the peak hours, it didn’t take us too long to get a table. I think we waited for like 10mins or so.

I ordered the Eggs Royale ($26), Iced Latte ($6.50) and had a huge plate of Truffle Fries ($15) for sharing. If you look at the price, yes it’s very pricey but I suppose the ambiance makes up for it. The food was pretty good too. I highly recommend the truffle fries. Almost every table ordered it and the portions are huge. And when I say huge, I mean HUGE! I can safely say it’s enough for 4-5 people to share. There were 3 of us girls and we only barely managed to finish half of it. No kidding. It’s really a lot. So we didn’t mind the price on that. There were a lot of pretty cakes as well. But we were too stuffed for anything else. So maybe next time. The bill came to about $160 for the 3 of us. Which is a pretty hefty price for brunch. But i guess it’s all right once in a while and for special occasions. I would definitely want to come back for desserts next time.

After brunch we took a cab back down to the Botanic Gardens MRT station and decided to take a stroll in Botanic Gardens since the entrance was just right next to the station. By the time we were there it was already around 6pm so it was a great time to walk through the park. A lot of people are seen having picnic, jogging, cycling here. Perfect place with the family or on a date. We walked over to the Symphony Garden and coincidentally there was a special piano concert that day by a Polish pianist who played a number of pieces by Chopin.

A large crowd gathered round on the grassy area in front of the stage and some really made themselves comfortable with picnic mats, and even foldable chairs, ice bucket and glasses of wine. True picnic veterans! It was an hour-long concert from 7-8pm and it was truly a lovely night with great weather. Perfect way to spend the weekend~

Expat Life: Week 4 – Gardens By the Bay | Selfish Gene Cafe

I’m now at my 5th week already and things have been going really well for me so far. Last weekend i’ve managed to cover Gardens By The Bay and one more hipster cafe.

Gardens By the Bay

This is a cluster of gardens hosting different species of flowers and also to the famous man-made supertrees. These “trees” work in a unique eco-friendly way by gathering solar energy and also collects rainwater. Then by night these supertrees light up in rhythm with the sound of music for the daily light show. So you can basically experience two different sides of the garden by day and night.

To get here, I took the mrt to Bayfront Station (yellow line). Once you exit from the mrt you should be able to see a shuttle buggy service just a little down the path. It costs 2 dollars to ride this buggy (2 ways) to the conservatory main entrance/ticketing area. If you prefer to walk, then there’s that option too. But since I reached there in the afternoon, it just seemed to make more sense to take a quick buggy ride rather than sweat my way through.

The ride took about 8 mins or so and drops right at the ticketing office. There are 2 conservatories here. One is the Flower Dome while the other is the Cloud Forest and unlike the other sections of the gardens, these two conservatories have an entrance fee. You can check out the prices at the website itself. However I just wanna highlight that local residents/holders of employment pass/work permit are entitled to cheaper rates. I decided to just check out 1 conservatory which is the Cloud Forest and since I have an employment pass, I got my ticket for 12 dollars.

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The conservatories are the best way to spend your hot afternoons as these domes are fully airconditioned. So I spent most of my time in the dome until the sun went down. I absolutely fell in love with the Cloud Forest upon entering as I was greeted with the beautifully greenery and large waterfall. There’s so many great picture opportunities everywhere and so if you’re an avid photographer, you definitely don’t wanna miss out on this.

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Another interesting thing about the Cloud Forest is that they have a sky walk around the man-made waterfall and also has scheduled mist sprays which engulfs the whole conservatory. So if you do drop by, be sure to wait for the mist to go on. The timing is around every 2 hours starting at 9am-11am and then every 2 hours between 2-8pm.

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After about 3 hours in the conservatory, the sun was setting and the weather finally cooled down for a comfortable stroll in the rest of the gardens. It was nice to see everyone just chilling around on the grass which is a great escape from the hustle bustle of the hectic city life.

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Then by 7.30pm I went to the supertrees grove and bought a ticket to go up the OCBC skywalk which is an elevated bridge that connects two supertrees. It costs 5 dollars to go up here and a tip to those of you who plan to go, do get in line earlier than the scheduled light show. I underestimated the queues and ended up catching most of the light show downstairs and only managed to catch a little bit of the end once I got up the skywalk. Also to avoid overcrowding, they only allow you about 15mins up there before the security people start escorting you down. So plan your time wisely if you plan on watching the lightshow from up the skywalk. The light shows go on twice daily (7.45pm and 8.45pm) and it lasts for about 15mins. Once the show starts you’ll definitely be caught in awe by the beautiful lights and the whole fairytale-like atmosphere.

Selfish Gene Cafe – 40 Craig Road

Not to be confused with the post above, this cafe is further away from that particular area. In terms of public transport, the closest mrt station would be Tanjong Pagar mrt (green line). As you go down Yan Kit Road you will come across Craig Road as shown in the picture below. Then turn left and go straight till you find number 40.

20150510_151937I ordered the Eggs Royale ($16) and hot Cafe Latte ($5). Food-wise, the eggs royale was perfect and just how I like it. However I thought the coffee tasted a bit acidic. Im not much of a coffee drinker, but I’d rather have something a bit mild. As for the atmosphere, it’s really chill and relaxed. I loved the glass roof which allowed natural light into the cafe. It’s also a great spot to catch up with some work, on the laptop or even catch up on your reading because it’s not noisy like other cafes i’ve been too and not overly crowded. Good spot for a quiet weekend!