Monday, 21 May 2018

Vegetarian 6 course lunch at Joie by Dozo

Few years back we were amazed by the food and service we had at Dozo River Valley but it was closed subsequently. It was recently that we found Joie by Dozo. It's now a vegetarian restaurant. Same as many people, we got the impression that it was not worth the same price as their predecessor who served meat in their courses. However, we were blown away with this vegetarian experience!

Service was great as usual, the service staff takes pride in explaining each course served. Free flow flower tea were served once we sat.
Hubby and I chose different dishes on the menu for each course so that we can have more varieties.

For a start, we were served complimentary pre-meal drink - passion fruit and plum ice blended. The waiter explained that this can help to clear our palette for the several courses later.

Starter: chef selection of assorted platter 
The waitress advised that we eat the middle first, then the right one and finally the left one. 
Middle one is sliced carrot with shredded radish and sauce on top. Oh my, the texture was so alike to salmon sashimi! I seriously dunno how they did it.
The right one is crackers with truffle and wasabi mayo, it's not much a surprise as compared to the middle one but it still tasted great.
The left one is Raspberry on a cracker. The waitress advised not to open the mouth while chewing it. Okay so I put it in my mouth and bite. BOMB! It bursts and Raspberry juice filled my mouth. Another surprise for us!

Side dish: I ordered gratinated champignon with mozzarella while hubby ordered Bailing mushroom on paper hotpot.
The gratinated champignon looks like escargot, the taste dun really taste like escargot but got the feel haha, u can still taste that it's mushroom.
Bailing mushroom on paper hotpot looks like those ah yat abalone with some vegetables on the sides and the abalone sauce. The crispy seaweed surprises us, it has a very special feel when we chewed it.
Both tasted really great!

Soup: I ordered infusion with cepes and truffle, while hubby ordered Japanese kunbu broth with handcraft tofu.
For the cepes and truffle,  the waitress advised that I put the piece of truffle in my mouth for 5 to 10 seconds before savouring the soup. Ohh! The fragrance of the truffle when I put it in my mouth is indescribable! U really have to try it yourself. The soup so smooth and it's not very creamy unlike mushroom soup that we had in other places.
Hubby's kunbu soup is very light and sweet, not for people who like strong taste I would say. And the exquisite handcrafted tofu, the chef must have skills in order to craft a tofu that define. We also read that the soup was boiled with vegetables and fruits, no meat or bones were used so it's less greasy and sweeter.

Main course: I ordered truffle risotto while hubby ordered grilled summer mushroom steak on 'pu-ye' hot stone.
My truffle risotto does not have the creamy cheesy feel like other risotto i have eaten else where, it's light and a bit salty when I first taste it. However, After I mixed the special sweet tar tar look alike enoki mushroom sauce, it tasted heavenly! There was a piece of enoki mushroom, corn croquette to go with the risotto too. I finish the whole plate without feeling 'gelard' which I usually will when having risotto due to the creamy and cheesy taste. This risotto felt refreshing instead.
Hubby's mushroom steak is even more interesting, the mushroom steak was monkey head mushroom and as we sliced one piece to put in our mouth, the texture actually felt like we were chewing meat and it tasted like ngoh hiang. We were pleasantly surprised! Not to mention there's a mustard grape sauce which helps to reduce any greasiness u might feel as u would when having steak. But of course, since this is a mushroom steak, it's already not much of a greasy feel.

For drinks, I ordered Hawaiian blue which is a mixed of lychee and blueberries, while hubby ordered iced mallow Apple melody which is a blend of mallow flowers, Apple and guava juice. Both were certainly refreshing! I remember few years back when we went Dozo, we were also pleasantly surprised by their drinks. We were not disappointed this time too! See  how pretty it was!

Dessert: I ordered warm chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream while hubby ordered layers of red bean and yam with rose glass. I cannot forget their chocolate lava cake ever since I tried Dozo few years back, their choco lava cake is easily the nicest I had! And yes! It's the same taste that I've been drooling for! Hubby's dessert was special as well but I was too engrossed with my chocolate lava cake, so I didn't really take notice of his hahaha.
And oh, thumbs up for their service recovery, the waitress actually served the red wine poached pear with lime sorbet to me instead of my choco lava cake. But instead of taking the wrong dessert back, they gave that to us for free and thereafter served another portion of my chocolate lava cake! Excellent service recovery!

And finally, a complimentary birthday cake for me! Make a wish. Make a wish!

Joie is now listed in fave at a discounted price at about 30% but it's only valid for dinner. We find the lunch pricing more value for money. You can take a look and compare if you are interested! I'll be back for sure!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

4D3N Cruise with Royal Carribean (Mariner of the Seas)

This was my first cruise and I chose Royal Carribean (RC) because I have heard good reviews of RC and also because I came across a road show at Punggol Waterwaypoint and the price was quite reasonable.

As this was my first time on a cruise trip and I'm bringing parents as well, I wanna ensure that everything went smoothly and I did not miss out anything. I did some homework and here I'll share some things to note for first timers.

- A month plus before the sail date, RC sent an email to me to ask me to do online check in for all passengers. Online check in was to be done at least 4 days before the sail date. At the last part of the online check in, they will ask if you wanted to provide your credit card details to link your Seapass card. I didn't want to provide my credit card details at this junction, hence, I chose cash first. On the sail date when I reached the Cruise Terminal, I then passed my credit card to the staff at the check in counter to link to the Seapass card.

- Seapass card is very important when on board the cruise. It acts as your ID, because your passport will be kept by the cruise when you board. It is also your room key and all the expenses you incurred on the ship will be charged to the Seapass card, which will then be billed to the credit card you used to link to the Seapass card. Of course, you can also pay by cash if you do not want to link your credit card, however, you need to pay in US dollars and the day before the last day of the cruise, a statement indicating all the expenses you incurred on your Seapass card will be sent to your room and you will need to go to the counter to queue and make the payment. 

- RC will email you the time you need to reach the Cruise Terminal before your sail date according to your Deck number. This is to help facilitate the check in process.

- All pricing on board are in US Dollars.

- The ship do not have free WIFI. You will need to purchase to have WIFI service.

- Passengers are not allowed to bring fresh food on board.

- I brought my own water bottles to the cruise because the cafe to refill the water was quite far from my room. Do note that RC do not provide mineral water in the rooms, you have to buy the mineral water from them and it's not cheap. There's a kettle in the room but I find it troublesome to have to wait for the water to cool before I can drink it.

- There's a fire drill before the ship sail. There will be an announcement to inform all passengers to proceed to your designated deck and location. Show your Seapass card to the staff and they will direct you to your designated location. Approach the staff when you reach your designated location to them to take your attendance.

- Room Attendants will provide the activities sheet for the next day and any information that you need to know in your room.

- The day before the last day of the cruise, passengers will need to collect the passports at the designated location. Information on this will be put in your room. Bring along the Seapass card to collect the passport.

Ok! Enough of the admin stuff! Let's start on my journey!

Day 1

View of Marina Bay from the ship
Our room, the promenade stateroom at Deck 6 has a window that has views of the Royal Promenade. The room was cosy, small but not cramp and it was tidy and clean.

Level 5, Royal Promenade, is a shopping street with some shops selling bags like Coach etc, there were also watches, perfume, skincare sales. The scale was quite small though. At times, there were lucky draws going on here.

At 5pm, there's a parade at the Royal Promenade and we watched it from the comfort of our room!

Ship started sailing
Lucky Draw! But we didn't win anything :(
Dinner you can choose to eat at the buffet place, Windjammer at level 11, or enjoy courses dining at the Main Dining Room. For the courses dining at the Main Dining Room, your Seapass card will indicate the table number allocated to you for your dinner.

The servers at the Main Dining Room were friendly and provided great service. Food wise, I find western food a lot nicer than Asian ones. Those Asian food that we ordered were a tad disappointing, but western food tasted fine. Oh, and if one serving isn't enough for you, you may keep ordering. It's sort of like a 'buffet'!

Butter garlic with scallops and garlic bread

Prime Ribs with mash potatoes and vegetables
After dinner, it's time for show! For the ice skating show 'Ice Under the Big Top', we have to go for the show timing allocated to us. If you do not want the timing allocated, you have to be on waiting list for the timing you wanted. This show was fantastic! Do not miss it!

*For breakfast and lunch, choices of having buffet  at Level 11 Windjammer, or courses meal at the Main Dining Room were available. However, do check out the opening timing Windjammer and Main Dining Room as the timing were different.

Other than Windjammer and the Main Dining Room, Cafe Promenade located at level 5 operates 24 hrs and they have snacks and drinks throughout the 24 hrs. This was where I fill up my water bottles too! Another 2 places the Arctic Zone, which serves soft-serve ice cream and Dog House which serves hotdog buns are located at Level 11 near the pools, and they operate from 1130am to 630pm.

Some restaurants on the ship (the servers will usually go around advertising for their restaurants) and some items on the menu require additional costs. They will indicate on the menu for those items that are charged.

Day 2

The ship arrived at Port Klang and was here from 7am to 7pm. We didn't follow the excursion arranged by RC to KL as additional charges was required and we wanted to enjoy the facilities on the ship while there were lesser people on board. Nonetheless, we did walk to the Port Klang Terminal and took picture of the ship.

Today, we spent some time explored around the ship and had a great time using the pools and Jacuzzi. There's also gym on the ship. Good to hit the gym since we kept eating on the ship hahaha.

2 beautiful sunset photos here!

Did I mention that there's a big screen on the pool deck screening movies

The featured show tonight was a magic show. This show was free seating, unlike the Ice on the Big Top. The magic show was entertaining as well! After the magic show, we immediately proceeded to the pool deck as there's a dance party on the pool deck! However, there's too many people and the space was quite limited so hmmm. that's the downside.

There's a surprise when we returned to our room tonight. Other than a very tidy room, there's this little towel doggie sitting on my bed.

Day 3

This morning, hubby woke up early to take some photos of the orangy sunrise! Pretty!

We signed up for a tour at 24 USD per person to see the 3-storey kitchen of the Main Dining Room to understand how the crew members served the 3000+ passengers on board for each meal. It was definitely an eye-opener! Through the tour, we understand the hardship of the crew members, they work for 7 months every day on board the ship and are given 2 months to go back home. We also see how hectic it was in the kitchen to prepare food for 3000+ passengers. It made me appreciate them more. We also learnt that the fridge on the ship was so big that it can store food to feed 5000 people for a total of 15 days!

Our guide for the tour

Chocolate cake!! 

Other than the tour, they also provided buffet brunch with specialties food and unlimited champagne.

On the last night of the cruise, there's a Gala Dinner in the main dining room. The attire advised was formal wear and we dressed up for the night.

In the midst of the dinner, the servers at the Main Dining Room gathered together to give all the passengers a thank you speech and sang the song ‘月亮代表我的心’ for us. After the song, 4 of the servers even danced 'Gangnam Style'! It was so entertaining! Really thank them for providing great service and go to the extend of providing a great show!

Servers gather to sing the song for us! The Main Dining Room looks so grand right!

After the dinner, we went back the room to pack our luggage first. As for checked-in luggage, we were supposed to stick the luggage tag to the luggage and put it outside our room between 7pm to 10pm the day before. Then the next day we just depart the ship and collect our luggage in the Cruise Terminal. Guess what! We had a little surprise again when we were back in the room!

Hello! Monkey!
Of course, if you wanted to carry your own luggage is also ok, just refer to the instructions on the sheet of paper given to you in your room on the last second day to see what time you should leave the ship.

The featured show for the last night was a dance and singing show. It was entertaining too! Followed by a Disco party on the Royal Promenade. It was a fun night!

Day 4

We had our breakfast in the morning and we had to vacate the rooms by 930am. According to the instructions on the paper, we were allocated to depart the ship at 1010am.

I was reluctant to end this cruise tour. This was my first cruise and I had a nice experience with RC. As for the food, hmmm.. don't put too high expectations, the western food are fine. Think for my next cruise, will try their newer and bigger ships when they sail to Singapore.

A big thank you to the crew members for providing great shows, great service and friendliness.

Ciao! For now!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

New Zealand SI (part 5): Franz Josef Glacier, Hokitika Gorge and Castle Hill

In my last post, we went for a Milford Sound one day tour, drove to Queenstown and stop over for a night before proceeding to our next destination, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.

According to Googlemaps, it will take 4.5 hours to drive from Queenstown to our accommodation at Franz Josef Glacier town, and the time taken to drive from Fox to Franz Josef Glacier was half an hour. So our original plan was to explore Fox Glacier first as it was along the way. Then drive to Franz Josef Glacier to check in to our accommodation. But we actually took a lot more time because the drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef was simply amazing and we had to stop at many scenic points. In the end, we didn't have enough time and had to give Fox Glacier a miss. So a tip will be to cater more time for the drive. Although it only took half an hour to drive from Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier, the route was very steep with lots of bends.

Below are some of the photos we took along the drive.

Lake Hawea Lookout Point

Lake Wanaka

Blue Pool (30 mins walk return from car park) 

Thunder Creek Fall (5 mins walk to the waterfall from the car park)

Roaring Billy (25 mins return walk from the car park)

Haast Pass

West Coast

Bruce Bay

Finally we reached Franz Josef Glacier and checked in to our accommodation, Franz Josef Montrose.

Complimentary soup from Franz Josef Montrose served at 8pm in the kitchen
Dinner was at Alice May, according to Tripadvisor, it was no. 1 in Franz Josef and they were really good!

Pork with apple sauce

Beef Cheek in red wine sauce
Franz Josef Glacier 
The track to Franz Josef Glacier to and fro took 1.5 hours. It was raining when we were there so we again had to brave the rain through the track. But this time round, the condition was better than Hooker Valley Track as there wasn't any strong winds, just some rain. So it was much more manageable. We were told that as Franz Josef Glacier's situated within the rainforest, this area rained most of the time. 

While walking half way, we saw some rocks rolling down the slopes! As the rocks rolled down, there's roaring sound. I initially thought some helicopter flew past, that's until I saw the rocks rolling down.

An ice cave we saw along the way

That's Franz Josef Glacier up there. It has retreated quite a lot. Sad :(

Panoramic shot of the surrounding half way through the track

Hokitika Gorge
After Franz Josef Glacier, we drove for about 2.5 hours to Hokitika Gorge. I love turquoise waters and Hokitika Gorge never failed me.

We had our dinner at Fat Pipi Pizza in Hokitika Town. The pizza was superb! We ordered a large half half pizza, Mariner (Fish, shrimp, mussel, smoked salmon, onion) and Portifino (shrimp, mushroom, bacon, garlic).

The Country Cottage
We have booked The Country Cottage for the night's stay, it's about 15 mins drive away from Hokitika Town. We loved this cottage a lot and the host was super friendly and nice! They live just next door. It was clean and cosy with a fire place! It was situated in the outskirts, very peaceful, quiet and serene. We could see stars at night as there's little light pollution here. We really love love love this cottage and highly recommend this! My favourite accommodation throughout my whole NZ trip.
The Country Cottage can be booked through this website!

We also encountered the first earthquake of our life here, in The Country Cottage that night. On 14 Nov 2016 at 1202am. The cottage shook a little, could see the furniture shaking and our things on the table and water moving. I was shocked and hubby told me that it was earthquake. We were lucky that it stopped after about half a minute. We felt a few smaller after shocks after that. We immediately checked the news and realised that a magnitude 7.5 earthquake just hit Kaikoura area and the surrounding, including Wellington were badly hit.

After that we kept our eyes on the news for earthquake very closely and were shocked that there were a few hundreds of after shocks within a day. We still felt very very small tremors as and when. We will be driving back to Christchurch the next day and were relieved that Christchurch was not affected by the earthquake.

On the last day, we drove back to Christchurch, passing by Arthur's Pass. It was so foggy at Arthur's Pass that visibility was low. We drove through Arthur's Pass and stopped by Castle Hill for a short walk before arriving at Christchurch.

Castle Hill

We spent the last night in Christchurch to catch our next morning's flight. Sob sob. A vacation that ended too soon.